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Joules says 70% of first half sales took place online – but store closures meant that total sales and profits will be down on last year

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Joules today said more than 70% of its first-half sales took place online at a time when its stores were open for only 60% of their usual trading hours. Black Friday was strong online, and the retailer is confident for the peak trading season as a whole. 

The lifestyle and fashion retailer said, in a pre-close trading update, that its ecommerce sales had grown by 35% over the first half, compared to the same time last year, with sales through its own website up by more than 45%. Black Friday helped to drive growth.

But sales through other channels were hit by both store lockdown closures, and the cancellation of country shows. During the 26 weeks to November 29, its shops were open for about 60% of their usual trading time, and sales via its stores were 46% down, year-on-year. Retail revenue of £75.3m was 6% lower than a year earlier but wholesale was hit hard, with sales of £17.2m down by 44% on the previous year. Overall, group revenue for the period is expected to come in at £94.5m – 15.3% down on a year earlier – and the group also expects to report a pre-tax profit of between £3.5m and £4m for the half-year. That’s less than half the £8.4m it reported for the first half last year – a period that also saw the retailer make more than half of its sales online for the first time.

Nick Jones, chief executive and founder of Joules, says: “The strength of our digital proposition, the increased number of Joules customers and the growing appeal of the brand has meant that Joules has continued to trade well during the period, despite the impact of enforced store closures. 

“We delivered a good Black Friday trading period through our online channel and our Friends of Joules digital marketplace continues to perform ahead of our expectations. We have strong momentum – particularly through our online channel – and a good stock position that underpins our confidence for the peak Christmas trading period. We have been pleased with the performance of our stores in England for the first few days since their reopening in early December. 

“As anticipated, our wholesale sales have been subdued in the first half, however an improved performance over recent weeks and the positive response to our spring/summer 21 ranges, that were sold in via our digital B2B sales platform, gives us confidence for the recovery of the wholesale channel over the coming seasons.”

Joules is ranked Top250 in RXUK Top500 research.

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