Joules has merry Christmas as web sales take over from shuttered stores
Joules had a good Christmas trading period online, the lifestyle retailer said on Thursday. Delivering its latest trading update (for the seven weeks to January 3), it highlighted total retail sales through its websites and through the Friends of Joules digital marketplace rising 66% year-on-year.
This was driven by “traffic growth and improved conversion rates across the group's digital platforms”.
But now for the bad news. Total store sales declined by 58% during the period as enforced closures of non-essential stores and reduced footfall (as and when stores were able to open) took their toll.
When stores were allowed to open, revenue was still 23% lower year-on-year, as visitor traffic stayed muted. That was especially the case in the last two weeks of the period as we have to assume consumers heeded the ‘stay safe’ Covid warnings coming from the government.
But at least store closures didn’t mean an overall sales fall for the company. In total, retail revenue through Joules' own-branded retail channels rose 0.3% against the prior year, with the growth in its e-commerce sales more than offsetting the decline from stores.
And it said that its "brand awareness and brand health metrics” showed continued improvements during the period. The active customer base continued to grow, with over 1.5 million active customers at the end of the festive season. And the company had net cash of £13 million and total liquidity headroom of £63 million as the start of this year.
But it’s staying cautious on its outlook. The company said on Thursday that all of its stores are currently closed and if that scenario were to continue through to April 1, along with wholesale customer closures and the cancellation of the country shows where it also sells, it could miss out on revenues of between £14 million and £18 million.
Of course, with the vaccination programme ramping up, it’s hoped that stores could open much earlier than April 1. And the company also expects that even in a worst-case scenario, the impact on its full-year figures will be lessened by that better-than-expected festive trading season, by its ongoing strong digital sales, and by its cost-cutting efforts.
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