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Joules posts defensive interim performance; chief financial officer leaves for virtual healthcare co

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Joules Group PLC (LON:JOUL) has posted a what it called a defensive interim performance and announced that its chief financial officer is leaving to change sector.

Marc Dench, who has been in the role for five years since joining the company prior its AIM debut, will take up an unspecified position at HealthHero, a provider of virtual healthcare.

READ: Joules expects new lockdown to hit sales by £14-18mln

Dench will stay until no later than the end of the group’s financial year in May while the retailer looks for a successor.

As announced earlier this month, the firm expects the new coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions to hit group revenues by £14mln-£18mln if they to continue through to April 1, 2021.

However, Joules said its performance in the year to May 30, 2021, should be protected by better-than-expected sales and profits over the past seven months, strong momentum in digital sales and cost-cutting initiatives such as head office reductions and lease renegotiations.

In the 26 weeks to November 29, 2020, group revenue fell by 15% to £94mln while statutory profit before tax dropped 24% to £1.3mln. Net cash was £15.6mln, up from £2mln a year earlier.

E-commerce revenue grew strongly and accounted for 45% of the total sales mix and that was maintained even when stores were allowed to reopen.

Across the whole interim period, Joules’ shops were closed for around ten weeks, while in the time of trading there was lower footfall due to weak consumer confidence and COVID-19 safety restrictions.

“While the latest lockdown will keep second-half profitability supressed, confidence in the future remains high thanks to the acceleration in new customers and engagement levels. Management assesses the UK market as having up to 10mln potential customers, which the group will target through continued digital marketing, product expansion, brand awareness and relevant content,” analysts at house broker Peel Hunt commented.

Shares shed 2% to 153p early on Thursday.

–Adds analyst comment, shares–

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