Jan 8, 2019
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Whistles gets stronger as sales and profits rise

Jan 8, 2019

Whistles had some good news this week with its annual accounts filed at Companies House showing a return to profitability for the year to March 31 2018.


The company has seen major challenges in recent years but a cost reduction drive and stronger sales combined to enhance its profits in what was an undeniably challenging period for middle market UK fashion retailers.

Total sales for the period were broadly flat year-on-year at £68.5 million after it sold £68.9 million in the prior year. But those figures actually conceal a much better performance than it looks on the surface.

The 2018 year was a 52-week period as usual, but the 2017 comparable year covered 62 weeks, and when the company compared both 52-week periods directly, it managed a sales rise of 16.1%.

It also saw rising profit margins (to 64.1% from 60.2%), resulting in gross profit for the 2018 year of £43.9 million compared with £41.5 million for the 14 months.

There was also good news on Ebitda profit with a leap to £5 million from a loss of £1.6 million in the 14-month period. This was driven by “strong sales growth in the period alongside streamlining of the business to reduce loss-making outlets, direct costs and overheads.” Net profit reached £3.6 million, so much better than the net loss of £3.77 million in the earlier 62-week period.

Online sales grew 10% during the latest year compared to the previous longer ‘year’ and by 28% compared to the 12-month period in the prior year. It was boosted both by Whistles’ own website and those of its online concession partners.

The company also said that while it continues to operate both its womenswear and menswear businesses, womenswear remains its core category (menswear is only available online and through one London store).

And it added that its balance sheet shows current net assets of £9 million, up sharply from £2.6 million a year earlier. 

Whistles is part of The Foschini Group, which has been extremely active on the UK acquisition front in recent years and also owns the Hobbs and Phase Eight chains.

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