Joules recovery starts, sales beat expectations, led by e-tail
Joules had reasonably upbeat news on Wednesday, saying that its performance in its first quarter has been encouraging, despite the challenging trading conditions.
The company said that in the 13 weeks from June to August, revenue was ahead of the board's expectations at £39.6 million.
That said, overall group revenue was down 18% “reflecting the impact of Joules' stores, and those of many of our wholesale partners, not being open for a large part of the period”.
But brand awareness and brand health metrics have “continued to track ahead of the prior year and the active customer base has continued to grow, driven by new customers within both online and store channels, demonstrating the relevance of the Joules brand to a growing customer base,” we’re told.
Overall retail revenue declined 5%, although retail sales through its owned retail channels actually managed to increase by 1.5%, “supported by a strong product and promotional offer”.
That came as revenue from its own e-commerce channels increasing by as much as 63% meaning e-commerce revenue including third-parties rose by 45% year-on-year.
The rises were caused by increased customer traffic to Joules' websites and improved conversion rates. In addition, Friends of Joules, the group's digital marketplace, “has continued to perform very well with customers responding well to the enhanced product offer”.
The company started reopening its shops on June 15, although it took it slow and all of them were open by early August. Since then, the company said the stores have performed well “with strong levels of customer conversion supporting a sales performance just 10% lower than the comparable prior year period” once the shops were open.
The company said this reflects the “well-balanced geographic locations of the group's retail stores, pent-up customer demand for Joules, and a strong promotional offer to help drive footfall. But while recent weeks have been stronger, for the period overall, including the impact of enforced store closures, sales through physical retail stores declined by 49%”.
Wholesale was in line with the board's expectations and fell by 59% “reflecting the anticipated slower recovery” of that channel. But feedback on the SS21 product range from wholesale customers across its global wholesale markets “has been positive”.
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