Joules bucks trend among fashion retailers with bigger than expected profits

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Upmarket clothing brand Joules has cheered a better-than-expected first full year on the stock market as it said profits would be "comfortably" ahead of forecasts.

The Market Harborough-based group - famous for its posh wellies - bucked woes seen among rival fashion retailers, notching up a 19.6% hike in revenues to £157 million in the year to May 28.

Chief executive Colin Porter told the Press Association the group had seen a boost from the weak pound, with an increase in international visitors to its website in recent months.

Its international sales are made largely through wholesalers, with a focus on Germany and the US.

But he said the pound's plunge since the Brexit vote had also been a "challenge" in putting pressure on buying costs.

He said efforts to secure good supply deals had seen it hold prices on its core ranges, with only "minimal" increases elsewhere.

Joules, which listed on the AIM market last year, said the stronger than forecast performance was also set to continue into the new financial year ahead of more store openings and product launches.

Mr Porter said: "As a result of the brand's momentum across channels and product categories, the board anticipates reporting profits for the full year comfortably ahead of its previous expectations.

"The board has confidence that Joules' momentum will continue into full-year 2018, despite the uncertain macro-economic outlook," he added.

Shares in Joules, which listed on the AIM market last May, jumped 5% after the profit upgrade.

Joules said retail sales leapt around 19.4% higher over the year, while wholesale revenues lifted by about 20.3% thanks to strong demand in the UK and overseas.

It opened 11 new stores over the year, taking its total in the UK and Ireland to 108.

The firm plans to open another 10 to 12 over the year ahead, while also pushing further into new product ranges, with new home lines planned within the next six to 12 months, as well as lifestyle and gifting launches.

Mr Porter said it would be looking at ways to increase purchases among its 2.5 million online customer base, of which just under 1 million are active.