Belfast Telegraph

Christmas bonus for Fatface and Joules as brands record rises in seasonal sales

By Kalyeena Makortoff

UK clothing brands Joules and FatFace, which operate three stores in Northern Ireland, are celebrating a jump in Christmas sales, adding some holiday cheer to what is shaping up to be a hit-and-miss season for retailers.

FatFace said it experienced a 12% jump in total sales and a like-for-like rise of 8% in the five weeks to January 6, with wholesale and concession channels emerging as a "particular highlight" over the period.

December 30 ended the clothing brand's largest-ever week of sales, while the week ending December 23 marked a record week of full-price sales.

That is despite FatFace deciding not to open 40 of its 228 stores on Boxing Day, which it said allowed customers and staff to "spend time with their families".

FatFace chief executive Anthony Thompson said: "Our trading performance over the Christmas period has been strong on all fronts.

"We continue to believe that giving our customers price integrity before the big day has been central to this performance."

FatFace has one store in Belfast's Victoria Square and an outlet in Banbridge's The Outlet.

Joules, which has a store in Belfast's Arthur Street, also enjoyed a strong holiday trading period, with total retail sales up 19.2% in the seven weeks to January 7, compared to a year earlier.

The clothing company said the rise was driven by continued growth across both its e-commerce and store divisions, while it managed to maintain its "disciplines and selective approach" to price promotions.

Colin Porter, chief executive of Joules, said: "The group's retail performance through the Christmas trading period is testament to the strength of the Joules brand, unique product proposition and customer engagement."

But Joules shares failed to rise on the back of the results and were trading 0.3% lower at 309p in morning trading yesterday.

Privately-owned FatFace also revealed figures showing strong performance ahead of the holiday shopping season.

It said total sales rose by 12% to £120m in the 26 weeks to December 2, while total underlying earnings climbed 8% to £14.9m. On a like-for-like basis, sales rose 7%.

Online retail was up 27%, helping e-commerce account for 18% of overall sales, while sales from its international division surged 61% to £5.5m.

FatFace is now planning to open a further three stores in the US in February, adding to its six existing outlets. It has 169 stores in the UK.

Mr Thompson said: "FatFace has outperformed the market in the first half, while maintaining a full-price trading stance.

"Our US stores continue to perform well and we look forward to further openings.

"This, together with a new distribution centre and launch of a new website, underpinned a great first half for the group."

Belfast Telegraph

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