Joules has issued a profit warning following a torrid Christmas trading period driven by stock availability issues.

In an update this morning, the fashion brand said that retail sales over the seven weeks to January 5, 2020, were “significantly behind expectations” and as a result, it anticipated that underlying PBT for the year would be “significantly below market expectations” of £16.7m.

The retailer said sales over Christmas decreased 4.5% due to a stock availability issue towards the end of the year “the cause of which has now been addressed”.

As a result, Joules said it had established an outsourcing partnership with “a leading logistics provider” to run its UK supply chain operations. It said it would also be seeking a new US logistics partner.

New chief executive Nick Jones said: “We are disappointed with our inability to fully satisfy our customers’ demand through our online channel during the important Christmas sale period. We have identified the root cause of this one-off issue and have taken steps to prevent its reoccurrence.

“Demand for the Joules brand and its unique products remains strong, with continued growth in total customer numbers and website traffic as well as robust results in our stores and partner retail channels.

“We remain focussed on continuing to expand the Joules brand and are making significant enhancements to our supply chain operations in the UK and US to deliver both future capacity growth and efficiency.”

The brand said that its stores and concessions, which had “good stock availability”, performed in line with expectations for the period and traffic to Joules’ website also grew 8%.

It also said it delivered “strong” sales during the Black Friday trading period.