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LK Bennett posts losses of £4.5m as turnaround plan gets underway

Lauretta Roberts
19 June 2017

Premium fashion and footwear retailer LK Bennett showed a loss of £4.5m on sales down 1% at £92.3m in accounts just filed at Companies House.

The figures cover the year to 30 July 2016 which was about two months before the business hired Darren Topp, formerly of BHS, as CEO. Michael Hitchcock a former financial consultant for BHS joined at the same time as chief financial officer.

In his statement non-executive chairman Patrick Woodall said like-for-like sales had increased 1% and online sales were up 19%. He added that Topp had conducted a "funadamental" review of the business and produced a growth plan.

"The plan has focused the business back to [founder] Linda Bennett's original vision of delivering affordable luxury. The growth plan is fully supported by all of the shareholders," Woodall said.

Linda Bennett, who founded LK Bennett with a store in Wimbledon in 1990 and is still one of its largest shareholders, has returned in the capacity of consultant. She sold the business to Phoenix Equity Partners and Sirius Equity for £100m in 2008.

When she sold the business Robert Bensoussan, co-founder of Sirius Equity, became chairman and he also served as its CEO, most recently from 2014. He handed over the CEO reins to Topp last year and returned to the role of chairman.

Key pillars of Topp's turnaround plan include: refocusing on offering luxury to the high street; strengthening the design, buying and merchandising team (Bennett's return forms part of this); growing its presence in UK and internationally (40 doors per year will be opened in the next three years, most of which will be in the UK); investing in digital platforms and in people.

Phoenix and Bennett have injected a further £6m to support the growth plan.

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