Winter of content pulls Joules IPO closer

Chief executive Colin Porter said that scarves and ponchos had sold well

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The Independent Online

The fashion and lifestyle retailer Joules, best known for selling quirky wellington boots to well-off women, has pulled off a storming Christmas despite the poor weather hitting other high- street clothes chains.

Sales over the six weeks to 3 January jumped 11.3 per cent compared with the same period last year, helped by 12 new store openings – including Joules’s 100th outlet – and the relaunch of the brand’s website in September.

The owner and founder Tom Joule said: “We’ve invested a lot in fast turnarounds. We look at things slightly differently to the market and offer clothes for now – to be worn today.”

Chief executive Colin Porter said that scarves and ponchos had sold well, while the heavy rain in the past few weeks had helped with sales of its wellies.

He added: “Babywear has also been particularly popular as we are really keen to be a lifestyle brand that considers the whole family.”

The online performance was particularly strong, but Mr Joule and Mr Porter  said they still plan to open a further 12 stores this year, and focus on international growth in the US and Germany.

Mr Joule also revealed that a stock market listing could be on the cards – though not for at least a few years – with private equity investor LDC keen for an exit after buying a 20 per cent stake two years ago.

He said: “We haven’t got a timeline and we don’t have a gun to our head, but to say we haven’t looked at the options would not be true. We brought them [LDC] in to help the business and they’re looking to get out – but we have to look at the stability for the long term for Joules.

“We know how LDC works and they’ve brought this to the table to look at. There’s always the right time to do something, but just look at the Stock Exchange over the last three or four days.”

Analysts believe the company could be worth more than £140m, giving Mr Joule a holding worth £110m.

Sales in the year to date are up 17.4 per cent, with strong growth in retail, online and wholesale, where Joules supplies John Lewis, Next, Harrods and Selfridges.