LK Bennett collapses into administration

LK Bennett has become the latest victim of turbulence on the UK High Street after it collapsed into administration, putting nearly 500 jobs at risk.

The upmarket womenswear retailer has appointed EY to oversee the process, with the loss of 55 jobs at the firm’s headquarters already announced, and hundreds more at risk across its 39 stores in the UK.

The company was founded in 1990 by Linda Bennett and is known to be a favourite of prime minister Theresa May, work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd, and the Duchess of Cambridge.

Five stores in Sheffield, Bristol, Liverpool, and London stores in Brent Cross and Westbourne Grove have already been earmarked for closure after the firm raised a warning over its search for new financing last week.

The firm’s website displayed a message this morning informing customers that it had stopped trading after “experiencing some issues” but said that they “should be up and running again soon”.

Joint administrator Dan Hurd said in a statement that "tough trading conditions for retailers, LK Bennett had been further impacted by significant rent increases and business rate rises”.

Therefore, he added that: "Linda and the management team therefore made the difficult decision to place the company into administration, to protect the future of the business."

The business has been put up for sales in the hope that it will be “attractive to a prospective buyer”.

Stores that remain open will trade as normal and administrators are understood to have suspended the website temporarily to process orders. Customers have been advised to call the customer services team with any queries.

The group reported operating losses of £6 million the year to July 2017.

Last week Ms Bennett, who returned as an adviser to the business in 2017 after selling her majority stake in 2008, sent an email to staff saying that “fought as hard as I can, with all your help to turn the business into the success that I know it deserves to be".

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