Joules reports continued growth of online business as lockdown eases

Fashion retailer Joules has reported a continued surge in eCommerce demand, which has enabled it to trade above expectations in the first nine weeks of FY21 (since 1 June). Online sales were up 70% year-on-year over this period, despite the full reopening of the group’s store portfolio, as consumers continued their shift to digital shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This performance has continued a trend that took place in the 53 weeks ending 31 May 2020 (FY20), when eCommerce represented 57% of Joules’ total sales. This compares to 49.5% in the previous year. Whilst there was a particularly large boost in this channel during the Covid-19 lockdown period, there was also a growth in eCommerce prior to this, with online making up more than half (51%) of total sales in the first nine months of the year.

This includes via its Friends of Joules online marketplace that was launched last year.

In the trading update published today, Joules said it is developing its eCommerce capabilities further to meet changing customer behaviours.

Overall revenue fell by 12.5% in the 53 weeks, which the fashion group largely puts down to an internal stock availability issue which led to a sales decline at the end of 2019 as well as store closures during the Covid-19 lockdown. Overall store sales declined 21.4% in FY20, including a fall of 8% in the first nine months prior to the pandemic.

Nevertheless, the group remains confident of its outlook, having taken steps to preserve cash and its liquidity position in the crisis.

Nick Jones, chief executive officer of Joules said: “We are very encouraged by the more than 70% growth in eCommerce demand since the start of the new financial year as well as the performance of our stores since reopening.”

He added: “Whilst the group's financial results for FY20 were impacted by challenging external trading conditions in the UK throughout the year; the stock availability issue that, as previously reported, impacted our eCommerce sales over the Christmas trading period; as well as material Covid-19-related disruption during the final quarter, I am very pleased with the continued progress we have made against our long-term strategic goals.”