Joules has posted an increase in sales during the first half of its financial year despite suffering what it called a “challenging” September.

The fashion retailer said revenues in the six months to November grew 1.3% year on year, with retail sales up 3.1%.

Joules said gross margins also advanced during the period as a result of “a disciplined approach” to promotional activity.

The business hailed “strong” ecommerce growth but said wholesale revenues were down 3.8%.

Joules blamed the decline on the conversion of some of its larger wholesale deals into retail concessions last year, as well as the “challenging UK trading environment”.

The retailer said customers “continued to respond well” to its ‘total retail’ model, designed to “seamlessly integrate” stores and online.

It said following a “challenging” September, it had regained “positive trading momentum” over the last two months. Revenues during that period were up 9%.

Joules also highlighted the “strengthening international appeal” of its brand as overseas sales advanced to account for 17% of group revenues.

The company is also bidding to grow online sales further after launching its ‘Friends of Joules’ online marketplace, offering third-party sellers a new platform through which to sell their products.

Joules said it had seen “a really positive early customer response” to the initiative.

Joules boss Nick Jones said: “Joules has delivered further profitable growth during the period despite the continued challenging trading environment. This performance again reflects the appeal of the brand, the flexibility of our total retail model and the hard work and skill of our team who have not only helped deliver growth in this tougher climate but have also launched innovative new initiatives like Friends of Joules that create future growth opportunities.”

Joules will post interim results on January 21.