EY fashions administration for L.K. Bennett

Dan Hurd, Hunter Kelly and Craig Lewis of EY’s restructuring team have been appointed joint administrators of upmarket fashion retailer L.K. Bennett Ltd, which has collapsed putting some 500 jobs at risk at the company, whose shoes and dresses have been favourites of the Duchess of Cambridge

Headquartered in London, L.K. Bennett was founded in 1990 by Linda Bennett. The company employs around 500 staff in the UK, across 39 stores, 37 concessions and at its head office. The company’s international operations are not included in the administration process.

The company has been hard hit by the sharp rise in business rates since the last revaluation in 2017.

Dan Hurd, EY partner and 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.’

The sharp rise in business rates since 2016 has created increased pressure on an already struggling high street.

Analysis by Colliers International in to L.K. Bennett’s business rates bills for 37 shops estimated that rates are now 26% higher than before the 2017 business rates revaluation. The total bill for the group's UK shops (excluding concessions) will be around £3.4m this year compared to £2.7m in 2016/7.

Some particular shops whose business rates bills are considerably higher are as below.

Location

Business rates bill 2016/7

Business rates bill

2019/20

Percentage increase

Jubilee Place, Bank Street E14

£54,800

£93,800

+72%

Great Eastern Street, EC2

£43,000

£70,400

+64%

St Pancras International Station, NW1

£61,000

£186,300

+205%

Westfield Shopping Centre, W12

£74,500

£149,500

+101%

Brook Street, W1

£139,590

£251,500

+80%

Source: Colliers International

On appointment, the administrators announced a reduction in employee numbers at the company’s headquarters and the closure of five stores – based in Sheffield (Meadowhall), Bristol, Liverpool and two in London (Brent Cross and Westbourne Grove). This has resulted in some 55 redundancies.

A sale process for the business has commenced. EY said trading will continue as normal, although web sales will be temporarily suspended, to allow the administrators to work with the company’s trading partners, to ensure customer orders can be processed and delivered as usual.

Hurd said: ‘L.K. 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.’

Report by Pat Sweet

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