As it emerged a number of private equity firms are eyeing purchasing a stake in fashion retailer Joules, Retail Week takes a look at some of the quirks of the business.

  • Joules was started in the 1980s as a trading business selling country clothes at equestrian events and country shows to more ‘urban’ customers who had moved from the city to the country.
  • Current chief executive Tom Joule acquired 80% of the business from his father, Ian, in 1999 and set up the Joules clothing brand.
  • All of its stores were located in market and seaside towns around the country until 2010 when it opened a number of larger-than-average stores (1500-2,500 sq ft) in major city centres including London (Covent Garden), Edinburgh, Leeds and York. As of November 2012 it traded through 54 outlets in the UK.
  • The company opened its first outlet at a mainline railway station concourse last July, at the recently redeveloped London Waterloo station.
  • Online and mail order sales were predicted to have hit £13-14m over 2011/12, according to Retail Week Knowledge Bank.
  • In the last year Joules has extended its range to homewares and toys and is eyeing international expansion into the US and South East Asia, either through physical stores or an online venture, as well as building on its franchise stores in France and Sweden.
  • Wholesale has formed an important revenue stream for the company since 2001 when Tom Joule was forced to sell his clothing through rural stores and clothing retailers after a £100,000 order with a manufacturer in China coincided with the foot and mouth crisis hitting the UK and the cancellation of all country and equestrian events.
  • In a bid to stand out from competitors that traditionally focused on practicality rather than fashion, the company established a colour-led theme, with one of its most successful products its patterned Wellington boots.
  • In 2010, Joules acquired Lions Rampant, a small sports heritage brand, and rebranded as Rampant Sporting while opening two standalone stores in Exeter and Aldeburgh. The business was put up for sale in summer 2012 after management decided to focus exclusively on growing the Joules brand.
  • In 2010/11, the company consolidated its warehouse activities into one central facility while a fully automated warehouse management system was launched in 2012.
  • The retailer had 796 employees at last count in 2012.