Joules suffered a drop in sales during its first quarter as store closures dented its top line, but boss Nick Jones insists he is “encouraged” by the retailer’s recovery.

Group revenue fell 18% year on year to £39.6m in the 13 weeks to August 31 as Joules’ and its wholesale partners’ stores remained closed for a large majority of the period.

Joules’ revenues through its own online channels jumped 63%, while total ecommerce sales, including those made through third parties, grew 45%.

Total retail sales declined 5%, although sales through the group’s owned retail channels increased by 1.5%.

Joules began a phased reopening of its stores from June 15, with all stores open by the beginning of August.

The retailer said it had seen strong levels of customer conversion in stores since reopening, with sales down just 10% year on year.

Joules attributed its successes to good locations, pent-up consumer demand and strong promotional offers. 

By contrast, wholesale revenues slumped 59% amid what Joules called an “anticipated slower recovery of the wholesale channel”.

Chief executive Nick Jones said: “We are encouraged by the group’s performance in the first quarter of the financial year with sales ahead of our expectations. This is testament to the flexibility of the Joules model and the increasing strength, relevance and awareness of the Joules brand.

“The group’s strong ecommerce performance demonstrates the appeal of Joules as well as our growing customer base and we continue to be very encouraged by the performance of our Friends of Joules digital marketplace.” 

Jones added that Joules had seen “steadily improving footfall” to its shops, but cautioned that the business faces “challenging trading conditions and unprecedented levels of uncertainty” during the Golden Quarter.