Joules today said strong online growth via its own websites over the Christmas period has fully compensated for sales lost from its stores that were closed or restricted as a result of Covid-19. But the fashion and lifestyle retailer currently expects to sell less than it did last year as the pandemic has brought disruption to its wholesale partners and cancellation to its country show channel.
Joules, ranked Top250 in RXUK Top500 research, today reports that online sales through its own websites – including the Friends of Joules digital marketplace – rose by 66% in the seven weeks to January 3 compared to the same time last year.
At the same time, Joules said in today’s Christmas trading update, store sales fell by 58% during the seven weeks. At those shops that were able to remain open, sales were 23% lower than at the same time last year.
Overall, sales through Joules’ own direct channels were 0.3% higher than the same time last year, while active customer numbers grew to about 1.5m over the period. This, said the retailer in its trading statement, meant that “the growth in Joules ecommerce sales more than [offset] the decline from stores”.
This does not include the third-party retail platforms that Joules sells to on a wholesale basis. The retailer says if ongoing store closures during the current lockdown continue until April 1, it will lose between £14m and £18m in lost sales as a result of that, of disruption to its wholesale partners and of the cancellation of country shows.
Those lost sales may well, however, be mitigated in the year to May 30 2021 by better than expected sales and profits in the seven months to January 3, strong online performance - thanks to growing customer numbers, improved distribution and the relevance of its products – and its cost reduction programme.
Nick Jones, chief executive of Joules, says: “We are pleased with the continued strong performance delivered across our digital channels during the Christmas trading period and are encouraged by the increasing customer awareness off and demand for the Joules brand. This has been supported by our Friends of Joules digital marketplace, which added a great range of products and gifting options for customers throughout the Christmas trading period.
“While the latest round of restrictions on store retail across the UK present a further challenge for the retail sector as we enter 2021, we remain very confident that Joules, as a highly relevant, digital-led brand with an engaged and growing customer base and healthy balance sheet, is well positioned to navigate these challenges. As a result, we remain as excited as ever by our long-term growth prospects.”
Joules is benefitting from the results of investment in recent years in a ’total retail’ multichannel strategy that meant almost half of its sales were already online well before the pandemic hit.