Joules hires George at Asda boss for CEO role, targets global growth
Joules has appointed Nick Jones as new chief executive officer to drive the next phase of growth and explore international opportunities.
Jones is currently commercial director at Asda, where he is responsible for the performance of the trading divisions across food, general merchandise and George clothing.
The new chief executive will take over from Colin Porter, who after eight years at the helm of the lifestyle business has decided to retire. Jones will start at Joules before the end of 2019 following a short handover period, the brand said.
He has 25 years of experience from working with two of the UK’s best-known retail brands: Marks & Spencer and Asda. He spent 15 years at M&S before joining Asda in 2011 to run the George brand. Last year his mandate was extended to include food as well as clothing and home.
“Nick's extensive retail, brand and strategy credentials, as well as a clear alignment with the Joules values, made him the outstanding candidate for the role,” commented Ian Filby, non-executive chairman of Joules.
Jones added: “Whilst the business and brand has achieved fantastic growth over recent years, I share the board's view that there are tremendous growth opportunities ahead, driven, in particular, by further international expansion and online growth. I'm looking forward to working with the wider team to deliver the group's growth strategy - building on its strong foundations to further develop Joules as an international lifestyle brand.”
The UK is Joules’ largest market, but the brand also operates in the USA, Germany and France, and has offices in New York and Shanghai to support the international business. Britishness is an essential part of the business, and its focus on fun, clothing for the family come rain or shine delivered strong results for the brand in the US and Germany in the first half of the year.
In fact, international revenue now accounts for 15.8% of the group’s total, boosted by a stellar 64% increase in the first half of 2019. Joules’ international operations are mostly via wholesale (up 78% in constant currency) and e-commerce in the US and Germany.
Nick Jones seems well suited to drive further growth at the country-inspired brand. As commercial director at Asda, he led an innovation and digital transformation across the clothing and homeware business, and had previously been director of home and beauty at Marks & Spencer.
Joules is also trying to grow its homewares category, and has recently announced an agreement to style holiday cottages with its furniture and home products with an online accommodation provider, so Jones' experience in interiors will also be key.
Jones’ departure from Asda comes at a tough time for the supermarket chain following the failure of its merger with Sainsbury’s. The deal, which would have created the UK's biggest supermarket chain, was blocked by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in April over fears it would raise prices for consumers.
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