Whistles has reported a pre-tax loss of £5.1m for the 12 months ending January 31, 2009 in its first year under the leadership of former Topshop boss Jane Shepherdson.

Sales were £35.2m for the year.

According to accounts filed at Companies House, the group’s gross profit margin was 59%, resulting in gross profit for the period of £20.9m.

The company’s distribution costs and administrative expenses were £24.3m - 69% of sales.

Shepherdson joined Whistles as chief executive in January 2008 and set about repositioning the premium womenswear chain away from its boho roots to have a more contemporary and minimal handwriting.

According to sources close to the business sales initially dipped as traditional Whistles shoppers deserted the new look. However, sales are thought to have been on an improving trend in recent months as new customers discover the collections.