Shoppers head back to country casuals chain
STRONG DIGITAL SALES ADD TO ‘STRONG GROWTH MOMENTUM’
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