Tom Joule, founder and chief brand officer of Joules – the lifestyle clothing brand sold at more than 2,000 stockists worldwide, with sales up 17% to £218m and £23.5m ebitda in 2019 – described how he launched, grew and floated the firm, at a dinner for Profit Track 100 alumni in Birmingham last night.
The dinner was co-hosted by Sally Beavan, regional managing director at Santander, and Richard Rose, head of BDO Midlands, together with Fast Track’s founder Hamish Stevenson.
After starting out selling clothing at countryside fairs and race meetings, Tom told how the 2001 foot and mouth crisis – which restricted economic activity in rural areas – forced him to drive around Britain persuading shops in holiday towns to stock his colourful clothes. Launching catalogue and online sales, partnering with John Lewis, expanding internationally, and developing the product range, Tom successfully floated Joules on AIM in 2016. “The thing I get a kick out of is finding the next product,” he said, “I’ve always said my job is to know what the customer needs before they do.”
Speaking to our camera, Tom told how featuring on Fast Track’s league tables multiple times helped the company to attract investors, advisors and staff.
Tom shared his insights with 22 founders and senior directors from 18 Profit Track 100 alumni companies including Click Travel, Doncasters Group, Farmfoods and Forest Holidays, with combined profits of £190m on sales of £2.8bn and employing 16,000 staff. Around the tables guests talked to each other about their investments, business models, challenges and use of technology.
Jill Palmer is chief executive of Click Travel, which provides its booking platform to help customers including Red Bull, Whitbread and TalkTalk reduce the cost and complexity of their business travel. Last year it secured a multi-million pound investment from growth capital firm BGF.
Joanna Greenslade is co-founder and director of strategy and funding at Barwood Capital, an FCA-authorised real estate investment and development specialist spun out of Profit Track 100 alumnus Barwood Developments. It provides a range of property investment opportunities to both private and institutional investors across multiple sectors.
A word from our sponsors
Guests enjoyed networking drinks and dinner with representatives from our sponsors Santander and BDO.
Sally Beavan, regional managing director at Santander, welcomed guests and said after dinner she had enjoyed rich conversations about what is making private businesses tick in the Midlands. “The atmosphere is bullish, combined with honest discussions of business challenges – there’s an overarching belief in the future, and no-one has mentioned Brexit,” she said, adding “people are sharing great business stories and different experiences, and talking about what we’d do differently in the light of what Tom Joule said.”
Richard Rose, head of BDO Midlands, said the inspiring stories he’d heard during the evening underlined the entrepreneurial spirit of Birmingham and the surrounding region saying: “What an absolutely fantastic evening it’s been – it’s a great guest list, and great businesses are here. We’ve had really open and honest discussions – really learning from one another – well done to everyone for making the Midlands a great place to do business.”
More information on the Profit Track 100
For more information about the league table and events programme, see: https://www.fasttrack.co.uk/league-tables/profit-track-100/
For information about our alumni dinners and opportunities for sponsors, visit our sponsorship page: https://www.fasttrack.co.uk/sponsorship/