Founded by Linda Bennett in 1990 with the opening of its first store in Wimbledon, LK Bennett had a vision of bringing "a bit of Bond Street luxury to the High Street". Known for its signature kitten heels favoured by celebrities and royalty, LK Bennett became a destination for feminine footwear. Ready-to-wear womenswear collections were introduced in 1998.
Bennett sold the business to Phoenix Equity Partners and Sirius Equity in 2008 for a reported £100m becoming one of Britain's most successful entrepreneurs.
However the business began to falter in the mid-2010s. Acting CEO Robert Bensoussan appointed Darren Topp, the former CEO of BHS, to lead a turnaround in 2016. Bensoussan stepped back into the role of chairman when Topp arrived.
Topp orchestrated the return of Linda Bennett to the business, initially as a consultant, and she went on to buy the business back in 2017 through her Eywood Limited company, reportedly investing £11m of her own money to do so. Topp stood down in March 2018 and was replaced by Erica Vikauls, the former CEO of East and COO of Thomas Pink.
However by early 2019 it was clear the business was on borrowed time. Alix Partners were called in to offer advice on its options in February and by early March it was placed into the hands of administrator EY, who is seeking a buyer. Five of its 41 UK stores were closed immediately. Several bidders expressed interest including Sports Direct's Mike Ashley, footwear chain Dune and the business's Chinese franchise operator, Rebecca Feng, who set up a company called Byland with the purpose of using it to buy the brand.
In the end Feng and Byland, which was being supported in its bid by Topp, emerged as the winner. However the deal involved the closure of a further 15 stores in the UK and Ireland with the loss of more than 100 jobs. The international stores were not part of the deal (announced on 12 April 2019) and remained in administration.
womenswear; accessorises; footwear; handbags
Original founder Linda Bennett bought the business back from Phoenix Equity Partners in 2017, through Eywood Limited. It was placed into administration with EY in March 2019 and was bought in April 2019 by Byland UK, an entity set up by the brand's Chinese franchise operator Rebecca Feng, supported by former CEO Darren Topp.
Elys; Brown Thomas; John Lewis & Partners; Bentalls;
UK; France; Spain; Portugal; USA; Holland
Rebecca Feng and Darren Topp