Having become a company with a mission, the Jules brand is investing for the future – Le Journal des Entreprises
Committed since 2019 to greening its model, the northern ready-to-wear brand Jules (3,000 employees, €500 million turnover) is going further by becoming, in the spring of 2023, a company with a mission. Putting at the heart of its raison d’être, to “rebuild the link between man and his environment”, Jules wants to act where the shoe pinches. “The fashion industry faces two major challenges: it is one of the most polluting and consuming the most resources. Since the 1970s, overconsumption and overproduction have been at the heart of our industry. We are going to try to change this, on our scale”, summarizes Franck Poillon, the CEO of the brand, owned by the AFM. “We are a small player, very Franco-French, our impact will never be huge. But we have a responsibility and a role to play, there is no small gesture.”
Bring production closer
Small or not, Jules multiplies initiatives to try to reduce its impact. By starting by taking the opposite view of the mantra of the textile industry: “Always produce more, always further, always cheaper”, as summed up by Franck Poillon. The brand is working to reduce the quantities it produces, to limit its unsold stock. It has thus purchased 2.7 million fewer pieces since 2019, at equivalent turnover, and has seen its residual stock drop to 2% of its collections, against 6% previously, while offering fewer promotions. Above all, it is working to bring its production sites closer together and to improve its raw materials. “In 2023, we produce 83% in Asia, and 17% by close import, between the Mediterranean basin and Europe. We are aiming for 33% by close import by 2026, relying more and more on French industrial partners, with 19 ongoing projects”. With sometimes disappointments: the Denim Center, the jeans factory set up by the group to relocate part of the production of jeans from Jules and BZB to Neuville-en-Ferrain (Nord), has not achieved its objectives, can – be “a little too ambitious”, according to Franck Poillon. Of the approximately 80,000 pieces produced in the North in 2022, 20,000 to 25,000 “5-9” jeans were intended for Jules, who is aiming for 40,000 pieces in 2023, 100,000 for 2024, then “a lot more”. At the same time, Jules is accelerating on the “desidurability” (contraction of desire and durability) of its products, designed to be worn longer: its new range of “perfect” basics is guaranteed for four years.
Improve raw materials
At the same time, Jules works on its raw materials, which constitute 50% of its environmental impact. The brand is therefore supplied with “low impact”, organic or recycled materials: in 2022, they represented 17% of the tonnage purchased, and should increase to 40% in 2023. Eco-design also allows it to reduce its footprint , with, for example, “zero waste” sweaters, knitted in one piece by a Saint-Malo partner, faded denims thanks to the “Waterless” technique… In all, 50% of the offer, equivalent to 70% of the turnover, is thus labeled “In Progress”, ie, more virtuous. This should concern 80% of products in 2026.
Faced with these efforts, Jules underlines the “ambivalence” of the behavior of his customers. Who say they are concerned about the carbon footprint of their purchases, but focus above all on style and price when it comes to checkout. No matter, Jules is betting on the long term, and on the “pedagogy” deployed in its 550 stores, to support its customers in their choices.