LK Bennett lines up administrator

High-end fashion chain LK Bennett has lined up an administrator for the business as it desperately seeks funding to stay afloat.

EY will oversee the insolvency if no new investment can be found, according to Sky which first reported the story.

The firm, which counts the Duchess of Cambridge among its customers, has 200 shops globally. In the UK, it has 41 shops and 480 staff.

Famed for its kitten-heel shoes, it was founded by Linda Bennett in 1990.

Ms Bennett said her aim was to bring “a bit of Bond Street luxury to the High Street”.

She sold her majority stake in the chain to private equity firm Phoenix Equity Partners in 2008, but in 2017 returned to advise the business after the retailer started to struggle.

The chain made an operating loss of nearly £6m in the year to the end of July 2017, the most recent results available for the firm.

The accounts show that on her return, Ms Bennett invested around £11.2m into the business.

In an email to staff, Ms Bennett said she had “fought as hard as I can, with all your help to turn the business into the success that I know it deserves to be”.

“These are difficult and unstable times, and we are doing everything we can to identify the best way forward,” she added.

Tough environment

LK Bennett is one of a string of well-known names suffering in a tough High Street environment.

Last year, Poundworld, Toys R Us and Maplin all went bust and disappeared from British High Streets altogether. Other household names – Homebase, Mothercare, Carpetright and New Look – were forced into restructuring deals with their landlords, closing hundreds of stores.

Music chain HMV recently fell into administration before being bought.

Uncertainty over Brexit, which sparked a fall in the pound and therefore raised the price of imported goods, as well as rising labour costs, higher business property taxes and the increasing popularity of online shopping have all contributed to retailers’ woes.