First-half sales edged up 1.3% at Joules.

First-half sales edged up 1.3% at Joules.

Sales at British lifestyle brand Joules have left industry watchers unsatisfied, edging up 1.3% during the first half of the year to GBP111.6m (US$146.5m) on the back of what the company says was a "disciplined approach to promotional activity."

For the six months ending 31 May, retail revenue increased by 3.1%. Joules says the rise was driven by strong e-commerce growth supported by its "distinctive product offer, enhancements to the customer proposition and continued growth in its active customer base."

International revenue continued to grow, reaching 17% of group revenue in the first half with the continued growth of the US wholesale business and strong growth across its international e-commerce markets.

"Joules has delivered further profitable growth during the period despite the continued challenging trading environment," says CEO Nick Jones. "This performance again reflects the appeal of the brand, the flexibility of our 'Total Retail' model and the hard work and skill of our team.

"Since joining the business in September, I have been struck by the exceptional strength of the Joules brand as well as its clear potential for growth across channels, markets and product categories. We continue to invest in our proposition to meet changing customer expectations in a scalable and profitable way and, with positive momentum across both digital and physical channels, we are well placed as we enter the important Christmas trading period."

But industry onlookers feel the performance was weak.

Emily Salter, retail analyst at GlobalData, says: "Usually, an outperformer in the UK retail market, lifestyle brand Joules has reported some sobering figures, with group revenue only just in positive territory at 1.3%, but falling into negative growth at -1.4% when looking at the 26 week period excluding the impact of Black Friday, which fell into H2 this year. This is a significant slowdown considering that group revenue grew by an impressive 17.2% in FY2018/19, evidencing the huge impact of weak consumer confidence stemming from continued Brexit uncertainty. Despite offering a not unusual 20% discount over the Black Friday period, this significantly boosted spend as consumers held back purchasing in the lead-up to the event.

"Joules usually performs well over the festive period as it is well suited to gifting, and with double-digit growth standards to live up to, this will be a test of the longevity of the brand's appeal."