Market Harborough’s Joules opens its 100th store - in Dublin

Tom Joule of Joules based in Market Harborough. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Tom Joule of Joules based in Market Harborough. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Fast-growing Market Harborough-based clothing and home products store Joules has just opened its 100th store - in Dublin.

The company, which employs more than 250 people in the town, and a similar number at its distribution centre in Corby, is enjoying another great year - with revenue so far this year 20 per cent up on last year.

But despite its size - turnover in the year to May 2015 was £117m - company founder Tom Joule said he couldn’t see the firm moving to London.

Tom told the Mail: “Market Harborough has always been very important to me, and I think there’s a lot of Market Harborough in the brand.

“We have a showroom in Covent Garden, I go to all the London functions with my peers. It’s unusual for this sort of company this size not to be based in London, but I don’t think it really impedes us.

“We’re all about the aspirational family looking for a better life. Is that living in a big city or is it about living somewhere where there’s more room for the family, like a great market town?

“We’ve benefitted by being part of that market town movement which you see in TV programmes like Location, Location, Location or Escape to the Country.

“Market Harborough has grown up in a wonderful way, and we’ve sort of grown with it. There’s a lot of Market Harborough in the brand of Joules.”

The last financial year. Joules’ 25th year, was marked by a 22 per cent increase in revenue.

The company opened 13 new shops last year, and is doing well on e-commerce - including “click and collect” and catalogue sales too.

Overall, the company now employs around 1,500 people. And sales abroad were up by 65 per cent last year.

Tom said: “It’s been another period of exceptional growth for the Joules brand.

The company markets itself as a ‘contemporary British lifestyle brand - born in the British countryside and crafted with true British style and eccentricity’. “We’re a time-off brand,” adds Tom.

The Joules collections now include womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, homeware, toiletries and eyewear sold in their own stores and through national retailers like John Lewis, Boots and Vision Express, online and through catalogues.

Tom said the company would be looking to open more stores in the future - “150 stores feels about right”.

And he said America looked a promising market for the future. “They ‘get’ us. They like the fun and they like the quirkiness,” he said.

“I’d like to be a global brand. I don’t think we’ve reached my expectations yet.”

Tom stepped down as Joules’ chief executive officer in September, to focus on leading the creative design.

“It’s wonderful” he said. “I’m concentrating on my strengths again, which are understanding customers and creating great products with great people.”