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Chinese supplier makes bid for LK Bennett

Lauretta Roberts
28 March 2019

A significant Chinese supplier has entered the race to acquire stricken premium fashion and footwear chain LK Bennett it has emerged.

According to Sky News a company called Byland UK has been established with the purpose of acquiring the chain and its directors are listed as Feng Kangjie and Zhou Cuiqiong, whose company is believed to be franchisee for the brand in the Far East.

The news emerges just a day after it was revealed that high street chain Dune had also tabled a last-minute bid with prolific deal-maker Mike Ashley of Sports Direct was connected with an early indicative offer, after administrators EY were appointed earlier this month.

It is understood that former LK Bennett CEO Darren Topp may be assisting Byland with its bid, which is said to be the highest value offer to have been made. However that does not necessarily mean it is the most deliverable.

Topp, a former CEO of BHS, was appointed CEO of LK Bennett in 2016 and orchestrated the return of its founder Linda Bennett in 2017. Bennett then went on to buy out the business's private equity backer, Pheonix, and invested £11m of her own money.

However tough market conditions took their toll and the business called in advisers Alix Partners to assess its future options last month and it was subsequently placed into the hands of EY. Five of its 41 UK stores were closed immediately with the loss of 55 jobs.

LK Bennett was founded by Linda Bennett 30 years ago in Wimbledon Village. She sold a majority stake to Phoenix Equity Partners in 2008 for a reported £100m, though retained a shareholding.

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