Jane Shepherdson’s turnaround of Whistles is proving a success, with losses slashed and a return to profitability on the horizon.
In the year to January 31, EBITDA losses at the chain narrowed to £400,000 from £1.1m the year before, thanks to reduced markdowns and like-for-like sales growth. Sales were flat at £34.3m, owing to the closure of four underperforming stores.
Shepherdson - who led a management buy-in of the chain in January 2008 - said the sales bounceback had continued in the current year with like-for-likes and total sales “strongly positive” for the 12 months to October 1.
Former Topshop brand director Shepherdson told Retail Week: “After two years of financial instability, closing and opening stores, the rebranding of existing stores and redefining the creative direction of the brand, we have finally established the identity of the brand and begun to create a credible premium brand.”
Whistles, which has 36 standalone stores and 56 concessions, has also evolved its shopfit to reflect its new direction with the opening of a standalone concept store in Westfield London. New stores have also opened in Bristol and Brighton and another will follow in Covent Garden on October 22.