Joules says store sales have beaten expectations since reopening thanks to pent-up consumer demand, while ecommerce demand is 50% up in the first 11 months of its financial year, compared to the same time last year.
The fashion to homewares lifestyle retailer, ranked Top150 in RXUK Top500 research, now expects both sales and pre-tax profits to come in ahead of analyst expectations – currently a consensus of £187m in sales and £4.1m pre-tax profits.
Online demand is currently running 50% ahead of last year, Joules said in a trading update for the 11 months to May 2. That represents an improvement on the 47% online sales growth recorded in the first half of the year alone. And it says sales have continued to grow strongly on its Friends of Joules digital lifestyle marketplace, where third-party brands sell.
Meanwhile, store sales are ahead of expectations since they reopened on April 12 - and also ahead of the same four weeks in 2019. This, says Joules, reflects both pent-up consumer demand and lifestyle locations that now include stores in North Berwick and two in branches of Center Parcs - set to expand to five in coming months.
Nick Jones, chief executive of Joules, welcomed the performance, which he says reflects “the strength of our product proposition, the flexibility and diversification of our business model and the relevance of our brand to an increasing number of customers.”
He adds: “Our digital proposition continues to go from strength to strength and we have been very pleased with the performance of our retail stores since their re-opening. This has been a great testament to the growing appeal of the Joules brand, the attractive, lifestyle locations of our store portfolio and the hard work and dedication of our colleagues across the business during this time.
“Although the past 12 months have been incredibly challenging for the retail sector, I truly believe that Joules is now in an even stronger position than ever before. We have an increasingly digital-led business, more diversified income streams and a broader product proposition that is highly relevant to our customers’ lifestyles. Whilst the retail sector will continue to face near and medium-term challenges as a result of the pandemic, we look forward to the future with confidence, underpinned by the strength and relevance of our brand and business model."
Joules, founded in 1989 and based in Market Harborough, now sells to customers online through four websites – UK, US, Germany and global sites – and through 125 shops, 34 concessions and three franchise stores. It says today that its recent acquisition, Garden Trading, has made “an encouraging initial contribution”.
Earlier this month, Joules said it had expanded a £25m credit facility with Barclays Bank to September 2024 – with interest rates linked to its ESG (environmental and social governance) performance.