Joules, the premium British lifestyle brand, provides the following update regarding COVID-19.
In the weeks following the announcement of the Group's Interim results on 21 January 2020, the Group's key retail channels performed in line with expectations. In addition, the brand demonstrated its strength, with consumer awareness at its highest ever level of 46.4%, up 4.6ppt on the prior year, and Joules' brand health score also reaching record levels (both metrics as measured by YouGov's monthly survey).
However, since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK, the Group has experienced a decline in store footfall and revenue, which has significantly accelerated over recent days. The Group's e-commerce channel has also been impacted, albeit to a lesser extent, as consumers have shown increasing caution with their disposable income. These trends are also likely to impact the Group's sales through its concession and wholesale trading partners in the UK and internationally.
The Board expects COVID-19 to continue to have an impact on its business and the retail sector over the coming months. However, given the level of continued uncertainty, the Board is not able to provide financial guidance at this stage.
The Board is taking prudent actions to manage the near term challenges whilst ensuring the business remains well positioned to deliver its long term growth plans. These actions include removing cost and non-critical capex from the business. Furthermore, the Board has decided to cancel the proposed interim dividend, saving £0.7m of cash.
The Group currently has £16m cash headroom, a strong relationship with its bank, Barclays Bank Plc, and a supportive founder and major shareholder, Tom Joule. The Board continues to plan for multiple scenarios and explore various ways to mitigate the impact of reduced demand for a potentially extended period of time. The Board welcomes the measures that the UK Government has thus far announced to support retailers and impacted employees across the sector. However, we strongly echo the position of the British Retail Consortium and other senior retail leaders that more urgent action is needed to provide support to those working in retail during these challenging and uncertain times.
Nick Jones, CEO of Joules, comments:
"The challenges that all retailers are currently facing are unprecedented in modern times. Our immediate and over-riding objective is to ensure the wellbeing and protection of our colleagues and our customers. Our teams continue to demonstrate a flexible, can-do attitude during this testing time, and I would like to thank my colleagues across the world for their continued commitment and positivity.
"While the Group's near-term profitability will be impacted by the sector-wide effects of COVID-19, the Board is remaining focused on protecting long-term value for its stakeholders and managing the near-term pressures on the business.
"We have an outstanding, unique brand and a fantastic team. I am very confident that Joules will successfully emerge from this very difficult period in a position to continue to deliver its exciting long-term growth plans."
Joules Group plc
Nick Jones, CEO
Marc Dench, CFO
Tel: +44 (0) 1858 435 255
Peel Hunt LLP, Nominated Advisor and Joint Broker
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7418 8900
Liberum Capital Limited, Joint Broker
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3100 2000
Hudson Sandler (Financial PR)
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7796 4133
This announcement contains inside information within the meaning of the Market Abuse Regulation. The person responsible for arranging release of this announcement on behalf of Joules is Marc Dench, Chief Financial Officer.
Joules - a premium lifestyle brand with an authentic British heritage
Established in Britain by Tom Joule three decades ago, Joules is a premium lifestyle brand with an authentic heritage.
The Joules story began in 1989, when Tom Joule started selling clothing on a stand at a country show in Leicestershire. Today, it is a true multi-channel lifestyle brand; its products are available through its e-commerce websites, retail stores, at rural shows and events and wholesale channels both in the UK and internationally.
Joules carefully designs and sells clothing, footwear and accessories for women, men and children. The business also sells ever-growing collections of homeware, eyewear and lifestyle product ranges through both its licensing partnerships and Friends of Joules, the brands online marketplace for a contemporary country lifestyle.
The brand's values of quality, Britishness, family and humour, coupled with its unique use of colour and print set Joules apart. This approach, along with an unwavering attention to detail and drive to surprise and delight its customers with unexpected details, has been central to the brand's success and remains at the heart of everything Joules creates.
Joules Fast Facts
- Joules is an international brand, available in the UK, USA, Germany and other international markets
- Joules has a significant online business, operates across 124* stores in the UK and ROI across a range of location types, and has a well-established wholesale business with over 2,000 stockists worldwide
- Joules' talented in-house print design team lovingly hand-draw all the prints and unexpected unique details you see within its collections each season
- Joules is proud of its British heritage and still has strong roots in Market Harborough, the site of its first shop and Head Office - since day one
- Nick Jones joined the business in September 2019, taking over as CEO in October 2019. Tom Joule continues to focus on the creative side of the business in his capacity as Chief Brand Officer
- Joules' performance has been recognised through a number of awards including:
- Mainstream Brand of the Year - Drapers Awards 2019, 2017 and 2016
- Best Licensed Fashion or Talent Brand Award - Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Awards 2019
- Best Licensed Gifting Product Award - Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Award 2019
- The Best Fashion Retailer (Mark of Excellence) - Retail Week Awards 2019 and 2018
- Fashion Retail Business of the Year (between £101m-£500m turnover) - Drapers Awards 2018 and 2017
* As at 24 November 2019, excluding concessions and franchises (33 concessions and 3 franchise stores)