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Whistles returns to profit amid turnaround

Whistles has returned to profit for the year to January 2011 and is “on track” with its plans to revitalise the womenswear chain.

For the year to January 31, EBITDA increased to £1.2m from a loss of £400,000 the previous year. Total sales during the period increased 13% to £38.8m.

Chief executive Jane Shepherdson said the chain would add to its portfolio in the UK this year, which includes 37 stores and 58 concessions, and start to explore new territories. She said: “We are delighted to be on track with our plans to revitalise the Whistles brand and expand our presence in the UK. This year we have opened two more standalone stores, with a further two planned to open before Christmas.”

She added: “The brand has also developed a significant international profile this year, and we are now investigating further opportunities around the world.”

Shepherdson said ecommerce, a strong coat collection and endorsements from actress Keira Knightly, presenter Alexa Chung and Kate Middleton helped drive profit.

The chain experienced a surge in sales of its spring 11 white silk, embroidered scallop-edged blouse last year after the Duchess of Cambridge wore it for her official engagement photos. 

Shepherdson led a management buy-in of the chain in January 2008 after Icelandic investor Baugur spun the chain off from the now defunct Mosaic Fashions.

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