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Joules boosts board to steer expansion

Lifestyle brand and retailer Joules has appointed former Fat Face chief executive Louise Barnes as chairman in a raft of board-level appointments to spearhead ambitious growth plans.

Barnes, who left lifestyle retailer Fat Face in January and is chairman of womenswear brand Fenn Wright Manson, will join Joules in mid-January. Prior to her seven-year stint at Fat Face, Barnes was brand director at mainstream womenswear retailer Monsoon.

Joules has also hired Colin Porter in the new role of chief operating officer, reporting to chief executive Tom Joule. He was previously joint managing director of luxury menswear brand Crombie and, prior to that, commercial director of department store House of Fraser.

Joules has also hired Kara Groves, director of clothing at outdoor retailer Blacks, as merchandising and supply chain director - a new board-level role. Groves will join on January 4 and will head investment and strategy across merchandising, sourcing and supply chain operations. She will report to Porter.

Lynsey Scott, head of design at lifestyle chain Jack Wills, has been named as creative director and will join at the end of December, reporting to Chloe Ward, who has been promoted from creative director to brand director.

Joule said the hirings would allow the business to expand across all channels, including online, wholesale, retail and overseas, after growing from a £1m turnover nine years ago to a business which he claimed would turn over nearly £65m in this financial year.

Joules, which launched in 1994, has 40 UK standalone stores, 700 wholesale accounts globally, seven UK franchise stores and six overseas franchise stores. Retail will be a key growth area for Joules, which has opened 12 stores this year and three in the past fortnight, including one in London’s Covent Garden. Joule said the business, known for focusing on market towns, would consider more openings in metropolitan areas.

Joules has revamped its website and is focusing on its premium and contemporary womenswear business to diversify away from the “overcrowded” lifestyle market.

In the year to May 1, total sales were £51.1m, up from £35m the previous year, and operating profits rose from £2m to £5.2m.

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