Jane Shepherdson, chief executive at women's wear retailer Whistles has revealed plans to open more than 30 stores overseas during the next five years.
She hinted that a possible IPO or private stock sale may occur sometime in the near future to fund the brands store expansion during an interview with the Telegraph, in which she backed calls by Business Secretary Vince Cable to demand quotas for women on FTSE 100 company boards and examine all women-shortlists.
Since Shepherdson left her former role as Brand Director at Topshop and joined the company back in 2008, she has managed to redirect the brands focus and lifted it into the higher end of the fashion spectrum. Now that the company has a number of UK stand alone stores as well as concessions in department stores such as Harrods, Harvey Nichols and John Lewis, Whistles is examining the possibilities of expanding overseas and opening its first stand alone stores.
"Within five years it would be nice to have as many stores in the rest of the world as we have in the UK," commented Shepherdson. Whistles currently has 50 stores in the UK, but only has a a series of concession stand in department stores in Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Paris as well as Moscow, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
At the moment Whistles is busy opening new concession stands in Chengdu, China as well as Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, so the immediate need for external funding for an international push is not imminent. However, as Shepherdson adds: "We will get to a stage fairly soon where we will need more investment to open stores."
"Up until now we have managed to grow organically, but we will get to the stage in the next year where we will need a cash injection," so the potential for a future IPO or stock sale is probable.