LK Bennett has been acquired out of administration by Rebecca Feng, its Chinese franchise partner who fought off competition from Mike Ashley, the owner of Sports Direct.
The deal is set to save 21 stores, all the concessions of the group and 325 jobs, however, 15 LK Bennett shops are set to close, with the loss of around 110 jobs. All refunds, orders, and gift cards will be honoured as part of the transaction.
The upmarket retailer was founded by Linda Bennett who opened her first shop way back in 1990. Last month, it closed five stores after calling in administrators from EY.
A new firm called Byland which is backed by Feng has acquired the UK business. It has around 40 stores and employs approximately 500 people. The international businesses of the group were not part of the deal, however, Drapers, a trade journal which first reported the rescue, said that Feng is hoping to secure the stores of LK Bennett in Europe and the United States in future.
Feng stated: “The LK Bennett brand is synonymous with quality and we believe there is a real opportunity to expand its reach in overseas markets, where significant untapped potential exists. Under our plan, the business will continue to operate out of the UK, looking to maintain the longstanding and undoubted heritage of the brand.”
Darren Topp, the former chief executive, and Andrew Ellis, the former finance director, will be working with Byland as part of the deal.
A joint administrator, Dan Hurd, stated: “With an established, luxury UK brand, the company received offers from a number of parties.”
LK Bennett has financially struggled despite its popularity with high-profile women, such as the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton and British Prime Minister Theresa May, who wore a blue dress from the chain for a photoshoot in the US edition of Vogue.
The business was also affected when House of Fraser collapsed into administration. The department store owed £418,000 to LK Bennett at the time of its collapse and closed its concessions following the takeover by Sports Direct.
Ashley and Dune, the owner of a footwear chain, had been in the running to acquire LK Bennett, however, the chief executive of Sports Direct pulled out partly due to his focus on the battle for Debenhams.
The stores of LK Bennett that are set to close are Bath; Belfast; Birmingham; Bridgewater, Banbridge (Northern Ireland); Royal Exchange, London; King’s Road, London; Knightsbridge, London; Long Acre, London; Northcote Road, London; Glasgow; Gloucester; St Albans; Westgate Oxford; and two stores in York.