Joules remains the jewel of UK multi-channel retail, says GlobalData

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Following today’s release of Joules FY figures for 2018/19, Emily Salter, retail analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, comments: ‘‘Lifestyle brand Joules remains a consistent outperformer and is seemingly unaffected by the downturn in UK retail due to squeezed incomes and political uncertainty, as group revenue increased by £32.1m to £218.0m. 2019 marks the brand’s 30 year anniversary, and demand for its signature outdoor styling and British identity shows no sign of waning. Brand longevity can be a concern for lifestyle players, but these results are testament to Joules’ distinctive design handwriting that gives it an edge over its competitors, such as Fat Face and Boden. International markets made up 16.1% of group revenue over the period (up from 13.1% in FY2017/18), as Joules’ “Britishness” provides significant opportunities for further international growth, especially through its wholesale channel as it continues to leverage this to drive growth in the US and Germany in particular.

“Joules has credited its ‘total retail’ model with bolstering its consistently strong performance, stating that this allows it to be flexible and adapt to changing consumer shopping behaviour as spend continues to shift online. The retailer’s online platform performed ‘particularly well’ over the year to make up 49.5% of retail revenue, but its stores still remain important (it currently has 124 standalone stores), and are well-maintained to ensure an attractive shopping environment in line with its brand identity, that helps to drive footfall and sales. It is this model that balances Joules’ exposure to one single channel, reducing the impact of any poor performance, and helps create a seamless shopping experience across all channels – something that consumers increasingly desire.

“The retailer’s underlying operating profit grew, albeit at a slower pace than last year, as its gross margin remained fairly stable at 54.8% (down from 55.7% in FY2017/18) as desire for the product and brand has enabled Joules to drive full price sales to maintain robust gross margins. Looking ahead, Colin Porter is set to leave the business after nine years before the end of FY2019/20 to concentrate on his role as Moss Bros chairman. Nick Jones will take over as CEO, with experience at high street stalwart Marks & Spencer and as commercial director at ASDA, where he was credited with revitalising its George clothing range. The retailer’s incoming leader will help it to continue to navigate the challenges in retail as its loyal customer base helps Joules to achieve another strong year in FY2019/20. Joules reported that it is trading in line with expectations in FY2019/20 so far as it focuses on expanding internationally as UK growth starts to slow. Joules is not content to rest on its laurels, so will also continue to expand into new categories, following launches such as its new gifting range, successful collaboration with DFS for its sofa range, and with Next to launch men’s formalwear.”