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Joules shifts focus away from ‘overcrowded’ lifestyle sector

Lifestyle brand Joules is ramping up its premium and contemporary womenswear business in a bid to diversify away from the “overcrowded” lifestyle market.

Founder and managing director Tom Joule told Drapers he wanted Joules’ contemporary range, Collection, together with its premium sub-brand Boutique to generate 50% of the group’s turnover within two years. The remaining 50% will come from the core lifestyle offer. At present, lifestyle accounts for 65% of the company’s turnover, which was £51.1m for the year to May 1.

“The lifestyle market is becoming overcrowded and we see our designs plagiarised too often,” said Joule. “We’ve always been design-led and want to show that we can offer more than just lucrative lifestyle collections, which the other lifestyle brands can’t [do].”

Joule said he would trial Boutique at wholesale for spring 11 with “a small number of very select boutiques” and plans to take it to no more than 50 accounts for autumn 11 to keep it exclusive. Joules, which has 900 UK stockists, is looking for accounts in affluent city locations, such as Chelsea and Islington in London.

Boutique, which launched in Joules’ 36 retail stores for spring 10, features luxe fabrics such as cashmere and silk and quirky prints. It is priced about 40% higher than the Joules mainline and Collection ranges. Retail prices are £29 to £99. Wholesale prices have not yet been set but Joule said the brand would give stockists a better mark-up than the core lifestyle range, which is recommended at 2.3, and Collection at 2.7. Wholesale prices for all of the collections have risen by about 2% for spring 11 to take into account the increased cost of raw materials.

Joules is seeking distributors in the UK, US and Europe for the Boutique and Collection sub-brands that specialise in selling to premium department stores and indies. However, it will not drop any existing distributors.

Joule said the business was also “very likely” to expand its menswear offer into Collection within the next two seasons. More shirts and knitwear have already been introduced into the men’s lifestyle range for spring 11.

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