Shoe emporium LK Bennett has been sold to Phoenix Equity Partners for a rumoured £100m. Founder Linda Bennett, the retail entrepreneur dubbed “the kitten-heel queen” is thought to remain a major shareholder. Bennett, put her chain up for sale four years ago only to find potential bidders refusing to match her price expectations of £75m. Since then she has expanded with 25 new stores.
Phoenix plans to expand LK?Bennett in Europe and the US, just as the private equity group did with Jimmy Choo, shoemaker to the fashionistas, and Radley, the handbag company, both of which it expanded rapidly before selling for big profits, as was reported in the Financial Times.
Most of LK Bennett’s 90 outlets are in the UK, with three in Ireland and one in Paris. The chain’s revenues are expected to reach £60m in the year to July, up from £45.5m in the previous year. Operating profits are forecast to rise from £9m to £12m.
Phoenix will appoint Robert Bensoussan, the French luxury goods executive who helped Burberry relaunch its brand, as chairman of LK?Bennett. Mr Bensoussan worked with Phoenix as chief executive of Jimmy Choo and chairman of Radley.
LK?Bennett makes about 45 per cent of sales from shoes – notably the “kitten-heel” style popular in the 1950s that Ms Bennett helped to make a comeback.
Image: Linda Bennett
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