Leicester Mercury

Shoppers head back to country casuals chain

STRONG DIGITAL SALES ADD TO ‘STRONG GROWTH MOMENTUM’

- By TOM PEGDEN tom.pegden@reachplc.com @tompegden

STRONG digital sales and people keen to get back out to the shops post-lockdown have boosted sales at country casuals chain Joules.

The wellies to pet treats brand said online sales were up 50 per cent on the previous year while its new Friends of Joules platform – which allows other businesses to sell their goods through Joules – had “continued its strong growth momentum”.

The business, which has a new headquarte­rs in Market Harborough, said since stores were allowed to reopen a month ago, sales had beaten expectatio­ns and been ahead of the comparable period two years ago.

In a trading update, the business said: “This pleasing performanc­e reflects a combinatio­n of pent-up consumer demand as well as the attractive, predominan­tly lifestyle locations of the group’s store estate.”

Joules said analysts’ consensus suggested sales would be £187 million for the current financial year with pre-tax profits (before exceptiona­l costs) of £4.1 million.

New stores have opened in North Berwick and the Woburn and Longleat Center Parcs sites – the first of five Centre Parcs shops due to open over the coming months.

Shops in Beverley and Cirenceste­r have moved to better locations.

Back in January the business said enforced shop closures had led to a 15 per cent drop in sales in the second half of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019 – down from £111.6 million to £94.5 million.

The latest positive update had also been driven by encouragin­g sales from the recently acquired Garden Trading Company.

It said: “Notwithsta­nding the continued uncertaint­y impacting the retail sector, the board is encouraged by this momentum across retail channels, as well as by the confirmati­on of the further easing of lockdown restrictio­ns in England by the UK Government, and now anticipate­s that the group’s revenue and profit before tax for the 2021 full year will be ahead of current analyst consensus expectatio­ns.”

Joules said Garden Trading had also performed ahead of expectatio­ns over the three months since the acquisitio­n, with sales up 85 per cent against the comparable prior year period.

It said: “This encouragin­g performanc­e reflects the strength of Garden Trading’s home, garden and outdoor product offer, its growing digital customer base, and the underlying market growth in this attractive market.

“The integratio­n of Garden Trading’s support functions has now been successful­ly completed in line with the group’s post-acquisitio­n plans.”

Joules says it has maintained its strong financial position having announced last week that it had extended its £25 million revolving credit facility with Barclays to September 2024.

Chief executive Nick Jones said: “We are delighted with the group’s continued momentum, which 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.

“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 reopening.

“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, we look forward to the future with confidence, underpinne­d by the strength and relevance of our brand and business model.”

I truly believe that Joules is now in an even stronger position than ever before

Joules’ Nick Jones

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 ??  ?? ON TREND: Joules says its sales since shops reopened have beaten expectatio­ns
ON TREND: Joules says its sales since shops reopened have beaten expectatio­ns

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