Published: 15:52, 07 March 2019
| Updated: 16:17, 07 March 2019
A high-end fashion retailer has confirmed it has gone into administration - triggering the closure of a number of outlets.
LK Bennett, which counts the Duchess of Cambridge among its customers, has a store at Bluewater, and concessions within Fenwick in Canterbury and Hoopers in Tunbridge Wells.
It revealed last week it was likely to appoint administrators after struggling to balance the books.
Now business advisor EY has been appointed as administrators, immediately starting the hunt for a new buyer for the beleaguered chain.
The company employs around 500 employees in the UK, across 39 stores, 37 concessions and at its head office. Its international operations are not included in the administration process.
Dan Hurd, joint administrator said: “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.”
All three of the Kent outlets will continue to trade but five outlets - in Sheffield, Bristol, Liverpool and two in London - will close close. In addition there will be job cuts at its headquarters, resulting in a total of around 55 redundancies.
Website sales have been suspended to ensure existing orders can be completed, while the hunt for a buyer for the company begins.
Dan Hurd added: “LK Bennett is a strong luxury UK brand, the new season collection was critically acclaimed, and recent trading is up, which we hope will be attractive to prospective buyers.”
Founded by Linda Bennett in London in 1990 with the vision of bringing “a bit of Bond Street luxury to the High Street” the entrepreneur sold her controlling stake in the fashion firm in 2008 but acquired it back last year from private equity investors Phoenix Equity Partners.