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Whistles’ losses spiralled to £15.5m before takeover

Whistles suffered a pre-tax loss of £15.5m in the year before it was taken over by Phase Eight owner The Foschini Group.

The premium retailer’s total sales fell 1% to £62.2m in the 52 weeks to 30 January 2016, compared to the 53 weeks to 31 January 2015. Whistles had previously released the percentage, but the full figures have now been published at Companies House.

The business said its profitability was impacted by a difficult retail trading environment, as promotional events such as Black Friday and its main Sales underperformed compared to the year before.

In March, South African retail firm The Foschini Group bought a majority shareholding in Whistles through its subsidiary, TFG Brands London, for an undisclosed sum.

Chief executive Jane Shepherdson left the business in September after eight years in the role. Whistles is now led by brand director Helen Williamson, managing director Justin Hampshire and creative director Nick Passmore.

The senior management team has previously acknowledged that 2015 was challenging, but said the business is now “back on track with a much-improved first-half performance” and planning international expansion.

It has opened stores in Spain and Dubai. Stores in Hong Kong and Switzerland will open in the second half of the financial year.

Last week, TFG Brands London, operates 22 brands across fashion, jewellery, homeware, sports, outdoor and mobile, reported a 47% jump in sales to £127.8m for the six months to 30 September. EBITDA increased 20% to £16.3m.

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