LK Bennett has shrugged off tough economic conditions to post a 17% rise in gross profits as the retailer looks to make footwear and accessories a higher proportion of its sales mix.

The upmarket footwear and clothing chain, which is favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge, saw profits climb to £54.6m for the year to July 30 2011, the Financial Times reported.

The chain’s gross margin increased to 66.8% during the period as footwear and bags made up a greater proportion of its sales.

Sales for the private company, which is majority owned by private equity firms Phoenix and Sirius Equity, surged 15.6% to £81.7m in the year.

Since year-end to the end of January, LK Bennett executive chairman Robert Bensoussan said like-for-like sales had jumped 15% on the same period the year before.

About 45% of the company’s annual sales revenues came from footwear, 45% from clothing and the remainder from bags and accessories.

Bensoussan said that the company is aiming to grow its proportion of footwear and accessories sales. “Over time, we want that to become 70% shoes and bags, and 30% clothing,” he told the newspaper.

The FT said that the company’s 2011 accounts recorded a pre-tax loss of £9.7m as a result of £61.9m of shareholder loan notes, on which a coupon of 13% is rolling up, leading to a £10.8m interest charge being accounted for in the period.