Sales at Leicestershire’s Joules soared in the second half of 2017 – in direct contrast to the challenging times felt by many of its high street competitors.
Overseas growth – particularly in the US – also contributed more to the chain’s overall success.
The Harborough fashion brand said sales in the half year to November 26 jumped 18 per cent compared to the same period in 2016, to £96.2 million.
Pre-tax profits were up a quarter to £9.3 million.
The update backs up recent Christmas trading figures which showed a similar growth in sales
As with many big retailers more and more customers are doing their shopping online – e-commerce sales were up almost 20 per cent while store sales were up 14.2 per cent.
Combined, that meant total retail sales for Joules were up 16.2 per cent.
Wholesale revenue meanwhile – to customers such as John Lewis and Next – was up 23 per cent.
Over the last year, the value of the business has soared.
Shares were 326p this morning compared to around 210p in January 2017.
Chief executive Colin Porter said: “The Joules brand has continued to perform very well, delivering growth in customer numbers and further expansion across channels, product categories and target markets.
“The creativity, energy and ability of our entire team remains critical to driving the business forward.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all colleagues across the world for their outstanding efforts throughout the Period.
“Joules’ brand, with its distinct heritage and values, underpins the group’s exciting growth potential as we continue to develop as a British lifestyle brand with broad international appeal.
“Whilst trading conditions look set to remain challenging across the sector, with our differentiated brand, unique product offer, loyal and growing customer base, exceptional team and well-invested infrastructure, Joules is well positioned for continued progress and expansion.”
The business, which also operates in the USA, Germany, France and other European markets, said international sales were up a quarter and now account for more than 10 per cent of all group revenue.
In the US, there was growth in leading department stores such as Nordstrom which has increased its Joules range to meet customer demand.
Dillards, meanwhile, launched Joules womenswear for spring/summer 2018 season, following the launch of childrenswear in the autumn/winter 2016 season.
In the first half of 2017 Joules shifted its US sales from a third party distributor to its own New York based sales and marketing team.
A trading update said: “This transition provides us with greater control over the growth of the brand within North America.
“Our German wholesale business has performed in line with expectations with the brand continuing to be received well and achieving a notably good performance in the independent retailer segment.”
Back in the UK and Ireland, the chain now has 118 stores and supplies a further 1,500 stockists.
During the six months Joules opened 11 new stores and relocated six stores to bigger units or better locations.
The trading update said the lifestyle clothing brand continued to expand categories including accessories, childrenswear and footwear.
It has just launched a women’s activewear range “inspired by the Great British countryside and featuring exclusive hand-drawn designs”.
There has also been “good performances” from licensed product ranges of toiletries, bedding and eyewear.
The end of the year also saw the launch of a Joules designed sofa range in partnership with DFS, and the business was pleased with the early customer reaction.
Looking to the year ahead, the update said: “Joules is a strong and growing brand with clear growth opportunities across each of our distribution channels and target markets.
“Since the end of the period we have continued to trade well.
“Retail sales through the Christmas trading season for the seven weeks to 7 January 2018 were up by 19.2 per cent against the prior year.
“Group trading in the second half of the financial year to date has, overall, been in line with our expectations.
“Given our performance to date, the board now anticipates that profit for the full year will be slightly ahead of the range of analysts’ expectations.
“Looking further ahead, the headwinds facing UK retailers are well documented and show no short-term signs of abating.
“The impacts are generally projected to continue to drive input cost inflation and margin pressure across the sector.
“Joules is well positioned to face this period of sector uncertainty.
“We have a strong differentiated brand; a unique product offer; a loyal and growing customer base; an exceptional team and a well-invested infrastructure.
“These core assets, combined with our strong product sourcing capability and long-term partnerships with core suppliers, underpin the board’s confidence in the group’s continued progress.”