Source chats to licensing manager Josie Will about extending the lifestyle brand through clever collaborations and product areas.
Joules has, over the past years, carefully developed its licensing channel through extending the brand into new product areas with key partners in the UK and internationally. So how did this journey come about?
Josie Will, licensing manager at Joules, explains: “Joules has traditionally focused most of its licensing partnership efforts on the UK, but most recently, we have been expanding and venturing into Europe and the US with our licensed partnerships including home, gift and lifestyle ranges.”
Before 2018, Joules’ only licensing collaborations were eyewear (Mondottica), bedding (Bedeck) and toiletries (Boots) ranges, plus the DFS sofa collection which launched at the end of 2017. Throughout 2018 and 2019, Joules focused on this channel, partnering with a number of selected expert businesses to extend into new and exciting product categories to enable it to meet the lifestyle needs of its customers.
During this time the business launched a collection of umbrellas in partnership with Fulton, a stationery and gifting range with Portico and partnered with Inter Luxury Group to create a watch collection. The retailer then added a men’s range to its Boots direct to retail toiletries collection, launched a kids footwear collaboration with Kickers, teamed up with VQ to design a range of radios and tech products, launched pet products with Rosewood Pet and teamed up with Next to launch its first men’s formalwear collection.
“We have always been passionate about choosing the right licensing partnerships that not only complement our values and commitment to quality, but appeal to our core target groups whilst matching their colourful and uplifting lifestyle,” Josie adds.
With the Joules brand having a very unique and discernible style, it must be challenging to integrate other brands into that look and feel. According to Josie, it is the uniqueness of the brand that helps.
She says: “All Joules prints are hand drawn and hand painted by our in-house design team, which allows us to license out to partners who are experts in their field to create really unique products in saturated markets. The licensing team at Joules make every effort to ensure licensee’s products match back in terms of colour and print quality to all in-house products, to ensure consistency and credibility.”
Josie reveals that there is a strong strategy in place for licensing its own well-loved brand. She says: “Joules has had three main objectives for licensing over the past few years. The first is to explore categories which we had tried and tested in-house and saw success through our own retail estate. A recent example is our pet accessories range, which launched in June 2019 to fabulous reception from consumers and retailers alike.”
The second objective, according to Josie, is to continue to develop Joules into a lifestyle proposition and grow its visibility in untapped markets. She explains that extending the brand organically into fashion accessories was a natural next step, with its new watch range for the AW18 collection allowing the brand to gain access to a new set of retail customers within jewellery stores.
“Our Joules Formalwear range with Next has also received positive feedback following its launch in June,” she adds. “This partnership has been a great way for us to deepen our relationship with the Next consumer and enter an untapped market within formalwear.”
Joules’ final objective is to bring the licensing collections and partners closer than ever to the mother brand. In 2018, the company held Partner Engagement days where colleagues could meet and share product ideas, discuss collaborative opportunities and understand ways of working better. The licensing team at Joules also ran a licensing showcase event at head office, inviting all Joules colleagues to come and see the various collections, learn more about them, and ask any questions they might have.
“Joules has 125 stores (excluding concessions), wholesale channels and ecommerce sites, which means it could be easy for products or ranges to get lost as the company grows, so the team are working hard to ensure the ranges and partners stand out from the crowd and get the attention they deserve,” Josie explains.
Picking up two Brand & Licensing Lifestyle Awards in 2019 and with further plans for licensing firmly in the pipeline, Joules is fast becoming recognised as a major player in the licensing arena.
Where it all began
- In 1989 Tom Joule started selling clothing on a stand at a country show in Leicestershire.
- The first store was opened in Market Harborough, with the head office based in a converted cowshed at a nearby farm.
- In 2016 the company floated on the stock market.
- There are currently 125 (excluding concessions) Joules stores in the UK and has a well-established wholesale business with over 2,000 stockists worldwide.