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Phase Eight owner considers making a bid for Whistles

By Vivian Hendriksz


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London - Foschini Group, the South African retail group which acquired international women’s wear label Phase Eight last year, is said to have it sights set on taking over another high street staple: Whistles.

The British fashion retailer has taken on advisers at KPMG to help prepare for a potential sale and has already received interest from a number of prospective buyers, according to the Sunday Telegraph. News of the possible acquisition comes as the Group continues to search for new areas of growth. If Foschini does succeed in acquiring Whistles, it it will the latest South African company to take over a British retailer.

Foschini Group mulls over acquisition of Whistles

Last year saw Brait, the investment vehicle held by South African billionaire Christo Wiese, purchase New Look in a 1.9 billion pound deal.. In addition, South African Truworths acquired footwear retailer Office for 256 million pounds.

It remains unclear if Foschini is interesting in acquiring a controlling stake or full control of Whistles. Chief Executive Officer of Whistles, former Topshop boss Jane Sheperdson continues to own a considerable stake in the fashion retailer, following when she help plan the management buy-out of Whistles in 2008, with the backing of Icelandic investment firm Baugur. The deal, which saw Sheperdson and the senior management team take a 20 percent stake, was refinanced a year later, when Baugar fell into administration.

Whistles most recent accounts indicated an annual sales increase of 9 percent to 63 million pounds, which will dampened by pre-tax losses of 2.4 million pounds following the retailer’s foray into the US and menswear launch. In addition, account show the company also spent an additional 434,000 pounds on its runway show held during London Fashion Week.

At the moment, Whistles currently counts 49 stores throughout the UK, as well as 76 concessions in UK and US department stores such as Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Harrods and Bloomingdales.

Photos: Whistles Facebook

brait office
Foschini Group
Phase Eight