Joules progress continues, reopening sales beat forecasts
Joules seems happy with its progress in the year to the end of May, despite the impact of the pandemic. The company said on Wednesday that it saw continued strong digital momentum and that since reopening in April, store sales have been ahead of expectations.
The fashion and lifestyle retailer said revenue in the 12 months rose 4% to £199 million, even with the "significant challenges" that it faced during the financial year. That performance mainly reflected the strength of its digital offer and a higher number of active customers, as well as a positive contribution from the Garden Trading Company that it bought in February.
The group’retail revenue rose 9% during the year as its own digital channels boomed and its Friends of Joules online marketplace was also strong. Factoring out third-party websites, online sales rose 48% through its own channels.
Physical stores were clearly unable to match that kind of performance given the long periods of temporary closure they had to go through and they fell 41% year-on-year. But as mentioned, in the eight weeks since reopening they've been performing better than expected, although it didn’t give a specific figure here. The company also said that store sales were ahead of the comparable period two years ago as it moved into its new financial year.
The company said that the recent physical stores performance “reflects a combination of pent-up consumer demand as well as the attractive, predominantly local high street and lifestyle locations of the group's store estate”.
It's also opening new stores and that includes its Centre Parcs locations with three new sites debuting to take the total number of Center Parcs shops to five.
It added that the wholesale channel was adversely impacted by the enforced store closures and by anaemic footfall when shops were allowed to open during the last financial year. That was true both across the UK and at the group's US and German partners. As a result, wholesale fell by 17%.
But its pre-tax profit excluding exceptional items should be between £5.5 million and £6.5 million, which is slightly ahead of current market expectations.
Overall, it was a good performance in the circumstances and the company’s financial position was described as being "robust", with net cash of £4.7 million at the end of the period and around £39 million of liquidity headroom.
The company also said on Wednesday that its previously announced new CFO, Caroline York, will join on July 26.
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