As LK Bennett owners Phoenix Equity Partners and Sirius Equity consider a sale of the footwear and fashion retailer, Retail Week takes a look at the business.
- LK Bennett was founded by English-Icelandic entrepreneur and designer Linda Kristin Bennett in 1990 and established a strong niche at the upper end of the affordable designer market. It opened its first store in Wimbledon Village.
- The retailer has built a network of 61 UK standalone stores and 38 concessions within department stores including House of Fraser, John Lewis, Fenwicks and Selfridges. Its domestic expansion has been largely static since 2009.
- LK Bennett has a significant overseas presence. It has operations in France, Spain, Portugal and The Netherlands. It entered the US in 2010 with concessions in four Bloomingdale’s department stores and has opened seven standalone stores in the country since.
- After securing a £16m credit facility from Lloyds Banking Group last year, the retailer plans to expand its US operations with 10 new standalone stores in major US cities in the next two years. It is also upping its presence in the Middle East, where it has four stores, and plans to launch in China.
- The retailer first launched a transactional site in 2006, relaunching it four years later with a feature that allowed shoppers to purchase items covered in press cuttings by clicking on the articles. LK Bennett launched a dedicated US site earlier this year and has begun trialling click-and-collect at two London stores.
- LK Bennett was purchased by private equity firms Phoenix Equity Partners and Sirius Equity in 2008 after Linda Bennett had attempted to take a step back from the business three years earlier. Bennett ceded 70% of the firm and retains a 30% stake.
- The 51-store retailer reported a 15% sales rise to £94.1m last year while underlying annual profits also rose 15% to £62.7m.
- The retailer has a number of celebrity fans including actress Emily Mortimer and, most notably Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton who has frequently worn its nude coloured shoes, causing sales to rocket as a consequence.
- LK Bennett last year appointed former Emilio Pucci chief executive Didier Drouet to become chief executive. Chairman Robert Bensoussan had been acting chief executive since the departure of Margaret McDonald in 2010. Bensoussan, co-founder of Sirius, had been working with Phoenix to drive overseas expansion, licensing agreements and range development.