Over third of LK Bennett’s stores to close as part of sale to new owner

Fashion retailer has two stores and six concessions in Republic

 

Over a third of LK Bennett’s UK stores will close after the brand was sold to a new owner, resulting in around 110 job losses. The stoes closing include one in Belfast and another in Bridgewater Park in Banbridge, County Down.

Administrators EY have completed the sale of the majority of the fashion retailer’s business to Byland UK Limited for an undisclosed sum.

LK Bennett’s operations in the Republic, which trade through the UK business, will form part of the sale.

The retailer operates from two stores in the Republic of Ireland - in Dundrum Town Centre in Dublin and one in Kildare Village. It also has six concessions, including ones within the Brown Thomas store on Grafton Street in Dublin, as well as one in Arnotts.

Rebecca Feng, who runs the brand’s Chinese franchises, has agreed to buy the business through a new company called Byland UK. The sale includes headquarters, 21 stores and all of its concessions.

It safeguards around 325 jobs. Gift cards, refunds and orders will be honoured as part of the arrangement. Ms Feng said: “Under our plan, the business will continue to operate out of the UK, looking to maintain the long-standing and undoubted heritage of the brand.

This will be achieved through a combination of working with quality British design, and the business’s existing supply chain.” Ms Feng has worked on the deal with Darren Topp and Andrew Ellis, LK Bennett’s former chief executive and finance director.

Both will stay on after the deal to assist the business. LK Bennett called in administrators from EY last month as it was hit by the headwinds affecting UK retail. Some 55 jobs have already been cut after five stores closed immediately following the administration, while staff numbers at the company’s head office were reduced.

According to fashion business website Drapers, a total of 15 UK and Ireland stores were not included in the sale and will be closed. EY, which was appointed as administrator on March 7th, is providing support to the 110 staff members affected.

In England, stores will close in Birmingham, Bath, Gloucester, Westgate Oxford, St Alban’s, York and the York Outlet.

London closures are Royal Exchange, King’s Road, Knightsbridge, Long Acre and Northcote Road.

Elsewhere, stores will close in Belfast; Bridgewater Park in Banbridge, Co Down; and Glasgow.

LK Bennett’s former CEO, Darren Topp, and finance director, and Andrew Ellis, have been working with Byland UK, providing operational and financial support. Both will remain after the deal.

The fashion retailer, known for its smart daywear, attracted celebrity fans over its near 30-year history, including the Duchess of Cambridge, who made their nude court shoes a signature part of her look. Before the administration, LK Bennett was owned by founder Linda Bennett, who had stepped back from the brand in 2008, but returned in 2017 as a consultant.

Later that year, she bought back the controlling stake previously held by Phoenix Equity Partners.

- Reuters