LK Bennett has collapsed into administration putting around 500 jobs at risk.

Administrator EY has been brought in to handle the process. It has already made 55 redundancies with immediate effect after streamlining head office operations and shuttering five stores.

The five stores closing are in Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre, Bristol, Liverpool, Brent Cross and Westbourne Grove.

The administration will only impact LK Bennett’s UK business including its head offices, 39 stores and 37 concessions. The fashion retailer’s international operations are unaffected.

EY said LK Bennett’s remaining stores will continue trading as normal, although its website has been temporarily suspended. A sale process is underway as EY bids to find a saviour for the chain.

Dan Hurd, joint administrator at EY, said he was hopeful that LK Bennett would prove “attractive to prospective buyers”.

Hurd blamed “tough trading conditions” in the retail sector and increased rents and business rates for LK Bennett’s collapse. 

He added: “Amidst tough trading conditions for retailers, the company has been further impacted by significant rent increases and business rate rises. Linda and the management team, therefore, made the difficult decision to place the Company into Administration, to protect the future of the business.”

As reported last week, EY had been lined up to act as an administrator for the womenswear retailers if no new investment could be found in the business.

Founder Linda Bennett opened the first LK Bennett store in 1990, before selling in 2008 to Phoenix Equity Partners and Sirius Equity for £100m. She re-acquired the business in September 2017.

In its most recent set of financial accounts, it made an operating loss of £5.9m in the year to the end of July 2017.