Business Fast: LK Bennett poised to enter administration

LK Bennett lines up administrators as it struggles to find backer

LK Bennett lines up administrators as it struggles to find backer

LK Bennett is preparing to appoint administrators after its owner struggled to find a new financial backer for the loss-making fashion chain, potentially putting nearly 500 United Kingdom jobs at risk.

The retailer operates two stores in Northern Ireland at Belfast's Victoria Square and The Boulevard in Banbridge.

LK Bennett has become the latest victim of the high street downturn after announcing it could enter administration unless funding is found to keep it afloat. Bennett regained full control of the business a year ago from private equity investors but it was reported last month that she had drafted in advisers to look at restructuring options, which included a potential sale.

The company lost £6m in the year to last July, the most recent figures available, which it blamed on weak consumer demand, heavy restructuring costs to fund a turnround plan and a fall in sterling following the 2016 Brexit vote that had increased its costs of sourcing materials in dollars from overseas.

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Ms Bennett stepped back from the brand in 2008, but returned in 2017 as a consultant.

It emerged last month the company had hired advisers to look at options for the business, including fresh investment or a full sale.

The clothing brand, which was founded by Linda Bennett in 1990, has around 130 stores across the United Kingdom and overseas.

LK Bennett is not the only high street business targeted at wealthier shoppers to have struggled as City workers and other highly paid professionals became jittery about their job prospects. The brand is also stocked in high-profile retail chains such as John Lewis, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.

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