Retail sales “significantly behind expectations” over Christmas at Joules

Retail sales over the important Christmas period were down at Joules after disappointing online sales hit the Market Harborough-headquartered lifestyle brand, according to a trading update for the seven-week period to 5 January 2020.

While in the Group’s Pre-Close Trading Update dated 5 December 2019, Joules had performed in line with the Board’s expectations during the first half of the financial year and delivered a strong sales performance over the Black Friday trading period, retail sales over the seven-week period to 5 January 2020 as a whole were “significantly behind expectations” and decreased by 4.5% against the prior year (FY19 comparative period: +11.7%).

The lifestyle brand noted that this was a result of “disappointing online sales performance due to an internally generated stock availability issue through the important end of season sale event, the cause of which has now been addressed.” Encouragingly, however, traffic to the Group’s website grew by 8%, but conversion was significantly down due to the stock availability issue.

The Group’s other retail channels, including stores and third-party concessions, where the Group had good stock availability, performed in line with expectations.

The Board anticipates that FY20 Underlying PBT will be significantly below market expectations.

Nick Jones, Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are disappointed with our inability to fully satisfy our customers’ demand through our online channel during the important Christmas sale period. We have identified the root cause of this one-off issue and have taken steps to prevent its reoccurrence.

“Demand for the Joules brand and its unique products remains strong, with continued growth in total customer numbers and website traffic as well as robust results in our stores and partner retail channels.

“We remain focussed on continuing to expand the Joules brand and are making significant enhancements to our supply chain operations in the UK and US to deliver both future capacity growth and efficiency.”