LK Bennett sales boosted by online expansion but closure of some weaker UK stores dents turnover

 
Kasmira Jefford
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The Obamas Dine At Kensington Palace
The Duchess of Cambridge wore an LK Bennett dress to meet US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle last week (Source: Getty)

LK Bennett, the fashion retailer that counts the Duchess of Cambridge among its fans, said like-for-like sales grew by five per cent last year after winning over new shoppers through its growing portfolio of stores overseas.

However, group turnover slipped as the high street brand shut down some of its loss making UK stores, falling by 1.8 per cent to £93.6m in the year to August 2015.

LK Bennett's chief executive Robert Bensoussan, who co-owns the business through his private equity vehicle Sirius Equity, has been growing the brand's presence in the US where it opened a flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York last summer and plans to open another shop at the World Trade Centre in August.

The group said Madison Avenue was already recording a strong performance, with online sales in the US up 40 per cent in the last financial year.

The retailer, which was founded by Linda Bennett as a shoe chain in 1990, has 130 stores and outlets around the world of which 86 are in the UK.

Bensoussan said it will open its first store in Russia in September and is exploring "options for growth" in China, where it already operates branded shoe concessions.

“We are very proud to be extending the presence of the brand in selected stores worldwide, including Russia, showcasing the strength and attractiveness of our products globally, as well as the UK, where we have opened in Harrods," he said.

Group operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose to £3m in the year from £2.6m. The company did not report a pre-tax figure, although the previous year to August 2015 revealed a loss of nearly £20m.

Bensoussan said last year "marked another stage in LK Bennett’s transformation" in growing the brand's online and international presence and that "it continues to position itself well for the future".

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