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Whistles to break away from Mosaic

Baugur is planning to spin off Whistles from Mosaic Fashions and install Jane Shepherdson as the brand’s new chief executive.

Sources said Shepherdson would take a stake in the standalone womenswear chain, but it would continue to be majority owned by Baugur and Shepherdson would report directly to Baugur chief executive of retail Gunnar Sigurdsson.

Shepherdson, who quit as brand director of Topshop in October last year, is understood to have approached a number of people to support her in the running of Whistles.

Karyn Fenn, who was part of Shepherdson’s star team at Topshop but who quit the young fashion chain earlier this year, is expected to take a role at the business. The duo were widely credited as the power partnership behind the success of Topshop when it stepped up its fast fashion strategy.

A demerger of Whistles would ease pressure on Mosaic Fashions chief executive Derek Lovelock, who has had a tough year integrating the Rubicon Retail brands Warehouse, Shoe Studio Group and Principles into Mosaic Fashions.

The acquisition of Rubicon Retail by Mosaic Fashions last year resulted in Lovelock taking charge of seven retail brands which have more than 1,600 outlets combined. Since the deal, the group has posted mixed sales across its brands.

However, Whistles was one of the group’s star performers this year with sales 7% ahead in the six months to July 28. This was the third best performance after Warehouse, which was up 17%, and Karen Millen, which posted growth of 14% for the period. Principles, Coast and Oasis all saw sales slip.

Baugur declined to comment.

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