Phase Eight owner private equity firm Towerbrook has laden the womenswear retailer with more debt so it can pocket a multimillion-pound payout.

Towerbrook has piled a further £90m of loans onto Phase Eight through a controversial refinancing that enables a special dividend to be paid, according to The Sunday Times.

The retailer posted a £4.6m pre-tax loss on £121m of sales after paying £16.4m in debt-related interest.

The newspaper reports that sources close to the retailer said the refinancing would help to ramp up Phase Eight’s expansion.

Phase Eight plans to rapidly expand its overseas business to comprise 25% of its total sales by the end of next year as it looks to launch in Australia and southeast Asia. It already operates in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the Middle East and, as of July, 10% of sales came from its international business.