Tom Joule founded his British lifestyle brand inspired by family, fun and country living in 1989. He started Joules by selling floral prints and trendy wellies at county fairs and agricultural events around the UK.
“I started this company from a table in a field,” Tom explains. “During the first few years, all I thought about was how to survive, then how to differentiate the brand. But as the business evolved, I started to think bigger. Once we took on private equity, that was a turning point.”
In 2014, he secured £22m of private equity investment from LDC to accelerate growth.
“I didn’t want to lose the entrepreneurialism or what had made us successful,” Tom explains. “One of the best things about LDC was they let us continue to run the business our way, because we gave them no cause to worry. Some people think private equity means losing control of your business, but if you choose the right partner and deliver on your promises, it will always be a good relationship.”
He continues: “We partnered with LDC at an important point on Joules’ growth journey and they were a supportive partner. I’m still good friends with the LDC team today.”
In terms of the impact of Covid on his business, Tom confirms the importance of agility in business and draws parallels to the impact of foot and mouth in 2001. “We only had ten employees and our sales were all through country events and shows which were cancelled overnight. We had to find different routes to market which helped us realise there was a broader audience for our products.”
“In 2020, the pandemic has had a similar effect on many businesses – making leaders review their proposition. For me, it’s reaffirmed what Joules stands for – spending time with family and friends in the British countryside.”
We partnered with LDC at an important point on Joules’ growth journey and they were a supportive partner. I’m still good friends with the LDC team today.”
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