Kate Middleton’s favourite brand LK Bennett to file for administration

LK Bennett, a favourite of Kate Middleton who is pictured wearing a £325 silk cream and green polka dot dress from the brand in December, is set to file for administration

LK Bennett, a favourite of Kate Middleton who is pictured wearing a £325 silk cream and green polka dot dress from the brand in December, is set to file for administration

LK Bennett, a favourite of Kate Middleton who is pictured wearing a £325 silk cream and green polka dot dress from the brand in December, is set to file for administration

Shoppers at LK Bennett claim its clothes became too expensive once Kate Middleton started wearing them, beginning the downfall of the high-end high street fashion brand.

Today, MailOnline revealed that the company’s founder has told staff it is heading for administration. It puts 500 jobs at risk.

The Duchess of Cambridge’s favourite high street brand is now working with Ernst & Young to help decide the ‘best way through’ the upcoming ‘difficult and unstable times.’

Its undoing was blamed by commentators on high prices and a failure to compete well enough with rivals offering same or next day delivery services. 

The move comes after LK Bennett reported losses of £5.9 million in 2016/2017, compared with a £100,000 profit in the previous 12 months. 

LK Bennett’s founder, Linda Bennett emailed staff today about the intention to file for administration. 

She thanked staff for their ‘hard work and dedication’ and added that she didn’t regret returning to the brand in 2017 to try and ‘reinvigorate’ the label.

LK Bennett is the latest in a line of big names to become causalities in the bloodbath on the high street. 

The UK’s largest toy shop Toys R Us went into administration in February 2018, leading to an estimated 2,000 redundancies and Marks and Spencer announced plans last May to close 100 stores by 2022.

The Duchess of Cambridge, pictured in Australia in 2014, has often been seen wearing LK Bennett dresses or shoes

The Duchess of Cambridge, pictured in Australia in 2014, has often been seen wearing LK Bennett dresses or shoes

The Duchess has worn dresses and shoes from the high street fashion brand on numerous occasions

The Duchess has worn dresses and shoes from the high street fashion brand on numerous occasions

The British brand opened in 1990 and is now well known for its signature kitten heels favoured by celebrities and royals including Kate Middleton who is pictured wearing dresses from the brand during a tour of Australia in 2014

Fashion brand Orla Kiely, which was also loved by the Duchess of Cambridge, also went out of business with debts of more than £7.25m (€8.1m) last year. 

High Street clothing giant Gap also announced today that it will close 230 stores worldwide as its US parent company launches a massive restructuring programme.

The closures amount to nearly a fifth of its total shops although the company has not said where stores will shut or how many jobs will be affected. 

Shoppers have said the brand put prices up after Kate Middleton started wearing their clothes

Shoppers have said the brand put prices up after Kate Middleton started wearing their clothes

Shoppers have said the brand put prices up after Kate Middleton started wearing their clothes

LK Bennett is the latest big name to become a casualty in the bloodbath on the high street

LK Bennett is the latest big name to become a casualty in the bloodbath on the high street

LK Bennett is the latest big name to become a casualty in the bloodbath on the high street

Today the brand had a 25 per cent off items in the new collection offer online and in store

Today the brand had a 25 per cent off items in the new collection offer online and in store

Today the brand had a 25 per cent off items in the new collection offer online and in store

British affordable luxury brand LK Bennett, which has 41 shops in the UK, was founded in 1990 with the vision of bringing ‘Bond Street luxury to the High Street’.  

How the price tags on Kate Middleton’s accessories increased after she wore them

Several pieces worn by the Duchess of Cambridge seem to have risen in price since they first made their debut in her wardrobe. 

In 2012 Kate was pictured wearing the the LK Bennett Sledge court shoe, which did cost £175, and holding the Natalie Straw Clutch bag, which had a price of £140.

The Sludge wedge increased by £20 after it became popular with Kate Middleton

The Sludge wedge increased by £20 after it became popular with Kate Middleton

The Sludge wedge increased by £20 after it became popular with Kate Middleton

LK Bennett's Natalie clutch bag also increased in price by £20 in 2012

LK Bennett's Natalie clutch bag also increased in price by £20 in 2012

LK Bennett’s Natalie clutch bag also increased in price by £20 in 2012

Both of these items saw their price increase by £20 after the royal was snapped in public with them.  

Branding expert Claire Shiels told Femail how labels can struggle to keep up with demand after public figures wear their clothes.

She said: ‘A sudden and unexpected spike in sales and demand’ can ‘involve huge costs for the label.’

However customers have said the store ‘put their prices up’ after Kate started being seen wearing their clothes and got engaged to Prince William.

Others have also criticised the brand’s prices, saying ‘that not many people have £300 spare to buy one dress’.  

Branding expert Claire Shiels told Femail: ‘Celebrity endorsement is the holy grail for any retailer, although it can bring with it as many problems as benefits.

‘Having your high street label worn in public by one of the world’s most photographed women can prove to be a nightmare if you’re not forewarned, which is usually the case with Kate Middleton.

Ms Shiels added: ‘The problem for labels with Kate in particular, is that she chooses staple wardrobe items that are typically priced at the higher end for high street retailers and wears them more than once.

‘This means that typically, her fashion followers will only purchase one item per season, rather than buying into the brand and shopping with them all year long.’

Fashion commentator Karine Laudort also told MailOnline: ‘The Duchess of Cambridge may be a fan but the everyday woman in Britain may think twice before spending an extra £100 on a outfit, 

‘Especially when most online retailers now offer free 24-hour or same day delivery.’ 

Today the brand was running an offer for 25 per cent off the entire new season range online and in store.

Customers could also enjoy free UK delivery on all orders. 

Items in the new range that were eligible for the discount included colourful court shoes priced at £195, a gold envelope clutch bag costing £175 and a variety of midi dresses costing around £300.  

LK Bennett is well known for its signature kitten heels favoured by celebrities such as Holly Willoughby and royals including Kate Middleton.

Kate took a two year hiatus from the brand and wasn’t spotted wearing it on any public occasions after August 2016. 

But she reaffirmed her love for it, just a few months ago – wearing a green and cream silk polka dot dress for a visit to the Evelina London Children’s hospital, in December 2018. 

Kate, pictured at Kings Cross St Pancras station in London, also chose a teal suit from the brand for her first official engagement with the Queen in March 2012

Kate, pictured at Kings Cross St Pancras station in London, also chose a teal suit from the brand for her first official engagement with the Queen in March 2012

Kate, pictured at Kings Cross St Pancras station in London, also chose a teal suit from the brand for her first official engagement with the Queen in March 2012

This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby wore an LK Bennett dress to the Chelsea Flower Show

This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby wore an LK Bennett dress to the Chelsea Flower Show

Katherine Jenkins attended her album signing in London wearing a dress from the label

Katherine Jenkins attended her album signing in London wearing a dress from the label

Holly Willoughby, left in one of the brand’s dresses at the Chelsea Flower Show in May and Katherine Jenkins, right in the Izzy dress and Priyanka Courts at her album signing in London in December, are also among the famous fans of the fashion label

Linda Bennett, pictured at Buckingham Palace, received an OBE for services to the fashion industry in the New Year Honours list in 2016

Linda Bennett, pictured at Buckingham Palace, received an OBE for services to the fashion industry in the New Year Honours list in 2016

Linda Bennett, pictured at Buckingham Palace, received an OBE for services to the fashion industry in the New Year Honours list in 2016

Kate also chose a teal suit from the brand for her first official engagement with the Queen during her Diamond Jubilee UK Tour in 2012. 

This elegant look included the £395 Jude jacket and £225 Davina dress which she paired with a pillbox hat by James Lock. 

Kate is not the only royal to opt for an LK Bennett piece, with Camilla Parker Bowles having worn a pair of their shoes during her wedding to Prince Charles. 

The Duchess wore an elegant court shoe at the Windsor Guildhall in pale beige suede, with an almond toe and a 2inch (5cm) heel, designed by Linda Bennett.  

Kate wore a stylish two piece LK Bennett outfit with a hat in Leicester during The Queen's Diamond Jubilee UK Tour

Kate wore a stylish two piece LK Bennett outfit with a hat in Leicester during The Queen's Diamond Jubilee UK Tour

The Duchess of Cambridge wore a blue LK Bennett dress to open The ICAP Art Room at Northolt High School, London

The Duchess of Cambridge wore a blue LK Bennett dress to open The ICAP Art Room at Northolt High School, London

The Duchess of Cambridge is seen wearing LK Bennett in Leicester during the Queen’s  Diamond Jubilee UK Tour in 2012, left, and at the opening of the ICAP Art Room at Northolt High School, London in 2014

The brand's founder Linda Bennett emailed staff early today to tell them about the intention to file for administration

The brand's founder Linda Bennett emailed staff early today to tell them about the intention to file for administration

The brand’s founder Linda Bennett emailed staff early today to tell them about the intention to file for administration

The Duchess of Cornwall speaks to the LK Bennett founder at a reception to launch the Southbank Centre's Women of the World Festival. Camilla wore a pair of shoes designed by Bennett at her wedding to Prince Charles

The Duchess of Cornwall speaks to the LK Bennett founder at a reception to launch the Southbank Centre's Women of the World Festival. Camilla wore a pair of shoes designed by Bennett at her wedding to Prince Charles

The Duchess of Cornwall speaks to the LK Bennett founder at a reception to launch the Southbank Centre’s Women of the World Festival. Camilla wore a pair of shoes designed by Bennett at her wedding to Prince Charles

Founder Linda Bennett came back to the brand in 2017 after leaving in 2008 when she sold a majority stake in the firm for between £80m and 100m. 

Ms Bennett founded the brand 29 years ago in 1990 with a store in Wimbledon, London.  

Bloodbath on the High Street: How shops in the UK went from bustling to bust 

2018 saw one of the worst years for the UK High Street with retailers shutting their doors and plaguing homes across the country with many job losses.

Crisis hit brands such as House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer fought to keep stores open while other retailers such as New Look pushed for a solution to stop store closures and job losses.

In 2018 nearly 85,000 retail jobs were lost in the UK as businesses continued to go bust as 1,000 retail business went into administration between January and September. 

As well as this the number of retail outlets left empty was up by 4,400 in 2018 according to data from the Local Data Company.

High Street giant Gap has also announced it will close 230 stores worldwide as its US parent company launches a massive restructuring programme.

The pressure on High Street retailers has hit an all-time high as they continue to try and keep up with the ever growing popularity of online shopping. 

Online retailers are able to keep prices low as they don’t face the massive rental costs of physical stores or the staff rates.

While retailers battle the rise in online shopping they are also being forced to battle Brexit, as many supply chain routes and whether or not they will be available in a no-deal scenario have put added cost worries onto retailers as many consider stock piling their items or not importing them at all. 

Here are some of the big name retailers which have lost out as they face fierce competition from the rise of online shopping

Carpetright

The carpet retailer is closing 92 stores across the UK. These closures represent nearly a quarter of all UK Carpetright stores.

Toys R’ Us

The UK’s largest toy shop went into administration in February 2018, leading to an estimated 2,000 redundancies.

House of Fraser

The department store chain was on the verge of heading into administration but was rescued at the eleventh hour by Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley.

Maplin

The electronics giant has gone bust, closing shops across the country and putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Mothercare

The baby and toddler chain is closing 60 shops across the UK putting up to 900 jobs at risk.

Poundworld

Poundworld announced it was going into administration on June 11 after talks with potential buyer R Capital broke down, putting 5,100 jobs at risk.

Homebase

The DIY chain set to close 42 DIY outlets shut, putting around 1,500 jobs at risk.

Marks & Spencer

The retailer announced in May it plans to close 100 stores by 2022, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

In August stores in Northampton, Falkirk, Kettering, Newmarket, New Mersey Speke, Stockton and Walsall all ceased trading.

Orla Kiely 

Orla Kiely, the Irish fashion retailer collapsed in September and closed all its stores after a slump in profits.

HMV

In December HMV entered into administration with its flagship London Oxford Street having closed earlier this year.  

L.K Bennett

Fashion brand L.Bennett announced it was filing for administration on March 1, 2019. Linda Bennett sent employees an email early in the morning to inform them of the news before it hit news outlets.

When she was just 26-years-old she saw that no one was producing affordable versions of the shoes being shown on the catwalk and jumped on the opportunity.

The idea for LK Bennett was then born and she took it upon herself to spend £13,000 of her savings and a bank loan of £15,000, which she repaid within three months of opening her first store.

From then on she was dubbed the ‘Queen of the Kitten Heel’ and created shoes that were the perfect blend of elegance and comfort that could be worn throughout the day, before launching into clothing and other accessories.

However in 2018 it was reported that L.K.Bennett reported losses of £5.9 million in 2016/2017, compared with a £100,000 profit in the previous 12 months. 

Total sales also fell by 1.8 per cent to £77.4 million. The company blamed the figures on ‘exceptional costs’ of £28.7 million, spent on corporate restructuring. 

At the end of the trading period the brand had 130 stores globally and one third of its group-wide sales were made up by online sales, reports retailgazette.  

Last August the company was hit by an IT glitch, forcing it to cease all online trading for three days. 

Unhappy customers were stopped from buying anything new from the website, and there was a delay in dispatching existing orders. 

Last month Ms Bennett drafted in advisers from AlixPartners to oversee a strategic review of the company she had recently returned too.

Sources told Sky News at the time that this meant there was a realistic prospect of at least part of the company being sold to an investor. 

Expert Fashion Commentator, Karine Laudort said: ‘It must have been very difficult for Ms Bennett to let go of the brand she built from scratch and that is why she fought back and came back as a consultant in 2017.

‘Unfortunately, this time around the economy and customer’s behaviours have drastically changed with numerous alternatives which are drastically cheaper on the high street and online.  

‘Love it or hate it, but big giants who only sell online such as Fashion Nova, Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, ASOS or Farfetch & Net a Porter, for designer brands, to name a few, thrive without investing into brick and mortar and by investing in digital marketing, celebrity endorsements and offline marketing.’ 

Chris Newell, Partner at business advisory firm, Quantuma, also spoke to MailOnline about the difficulties high street stores are facing.

He said: ‘High street retailers are facing a particularly tough retail environment at the moment, with a rise in business rates, increasing rents and a surge in the living wage of employees. 

‘This is against the backdrop of the tightening grip of online shopping on the market.

‘In the case of Mothercare, and more recently, Debenhams, we are seeing that household names are not adapting quickly enough to compete with the draw of ecommerce. 

‘The shops that will fare better are those that are transforming their outlets with added “retail experiences”. Take the success of Hamleys compared to the fate of Toys R Us as a prime example.

‘The internet is not going away, and with these financial pressure points, we will most likely see other big names follow LK Bennett’s trajectory. 

‘The appointed administrators of LK Bennett will most likely look to run the business for a short window of time, whilst they look for potential investors.’  

Ms Bennett’s email to staff today said: ‘I came back to the company in 2017 to try and reinvigorate the brand. It was a difficult decision, but I don’t regret it for a second. 

‘I have fought as hard as I can, with all your help to turn the business into the success that I know it deserves to be, and we have had some of our best sales figures and reactions to our recent collections that we have ever had.’

The designer then added: ‘I know that these are difficult and unstable times, and we are doing everything we can to identify the best way forward.

‘I want to thank you for your dedication, hard work and continued support.’ 

The Queen of the Kitten Heel: How Linda Bennett turned a childhood fascination with her Start-Rite shoes into a £100million empire

Fashion designer Linda Bennett turned her childhood fascination of fashion into a £100million empire which has helped afford her, her husband and daughter a life of luxury in London’s upmarket Notting Hill.

The 56-year-old fashionista is the found of premium womenswear retailer L.K Bennett which today said it would be filing for administration.

She was born and educated in London before training at what is now the London College of Fashion, where she took the prestigious footwear design course at Cordwainers before working with French designer Robert Clergerie.

Her mother was also artistic and practiced Icelandic sculpture while she says most of her inspiration came from her business savvy father who was a successful retail entrepreneur.

The British affordable luxury brand was founded in 1990 after Linda Bennett spent £13,000 of her savings and took out a bank loan to open her first store (file picture)

The British affordable luxury brand was founded in 1990 after Linda Bennett spent £13,000 of her savings and took out a bank loan to open her first store (file picture)

The British affordable luxury brand was founded in 1990 after Linda Bennett spent £13,000 of her savings and took out a bank loan to open her first store (file picture)

At just 26-years-old she saw that no one was producing affordable versions of the shoes being shown on the catwalk and jumped on the opportunity.

The idea for LK Bennett was then born and she then took it upon herself to spend £13,000 of her savings and a bank loan of £15,000, which she repaid within three months of opening her first store.

From then on she was dubbed the ‘Queen of the Kitten Heel’ and created shoes that were the perfect blend of elegance and comfort that could be worn throughout the day, before launching into clothing and other accessories.

In 2002 Bennet won the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, ironically from the same company which is now helping the brand through administration, Ernst and Young. 

In 2004 she was made an honoury fellow of the London College of Fashion and in 2006 she received an OBE for services to the fashion industry in the New Year Honours list.

Linda Bennett, pictured, came back to the company in 2017 after leaving in 2008 when she sold her majority stake for between £80m and 100m

Linda Bennett, pictured, came back to the company in 2017 after leaving in 2008 when she sold her majority stake for between £80m and 100m

Linda Bennett, pictured, came back to the company in 2017 after leaving in 2008 when she sold her majority stake for between £80m and 100m

Bennett founded the brand 29 years ago in 1990 with a store in Wimbledon, London. The brand grew quickly into an international chain and Bennett decided to sell the business to Phoenix Equity Partners and Sirius Equity in 2008 for around £80-100million.

Despite having sold off the brand she retained a stake on the company board, before re-joining in 2017 as a consultant to the management team.

In September 2017 Bennett increased her investment in the company and bought out the remaining equity from private equity owner Phoenix Equity Partners and at the time the brand was operating more than 260 shops and concessions in more than 30 countries.

After the acquisition by Bennett the company stated that it would continue to expand and subsequently launched stores in China, Russia and the US.

The curse of Kate! How the Duchess’ endorsement of L.K.Bennett could have contributed to its downfall as the brand struggled to keep up with demand for designs the royal wore

  • LK Bennett, a favourite of Duchess Kate, is set to file for administration
  • Branding expert Claire Shiels told Femail it can be a ‘nightmare’ if Kate is photographed wearing an item from the high street brand
  • Shoppers more likely to buy one-offs rather than become regular customers 

For any fashion brand, having a member of the royal family wear your clothes might seem like the ultimate endorsement, but while the ‘Kate effect’ can boost sales, it wasn’t enough to save one of her high street favourites, L.K.Bennett.

The high street fashion house, a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge, is set to file for administration, putting up to 500 jobs at risk.  

Branding expert Claire Shiels told Femail: ‘Celebrity endorsement is the holy grail for any retailer, although it can bring with it as many problems as benefits.

‘Having your high street label worn in public by one of the world’s most photographed women can prove to be a nightmare if you’re not forewarned, which is usually the case with Kate Middleton. 

Kate Middleton, 37, pictured in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Wednesday wearing her go-to black boots from LK Bennett. The high street store is set to file for administration

Kate Middleton, 37, pictured in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Wednesday wearing her go-to black boots from LK Bennett. The high street store is set to file for administration

Kate Middleton, 37, pictured in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Wednesday wearing her go-to black boots from LK Bennett. The high street store is set to file for administration

‘Retailers must walk a fine line between supply and demand, with production based on a number of factors including historical sales figures, market trends and buyer behaviour. 

‘A sudden and unexpected spike in sales and demand, which is what happens to a garment when the Duchess is spotted wearing it, often means that another immediate production run is required to satisfy demand and maximise the sales opportunity. 

‘Unfortunately, this can involve huge costs for the label, which then is unable to forecast when the sales surge is likely to suddenly drop again. 

‘The science behind production is therefore thrown into disarray and costs can easily spiral.’ 

The Duchess, 37, has been spotted wearing L.K. Bennett numerous times – from a printed blue and white dress to her go-to black booties.

Claire added: ‘The problem for labels with Kate in particular, is that she chooses staple wardrobe items that are typically priced at the higher end for high street retailers and wears them more than once. 

‘This means that typically, her fashion followers will only purchase one item per season, rather than buying into the brand and shopping with them all year long. 

The Duchess of Cambridge sporting an LK Bennett dress for a dinner at Kensington Palace, London, during former US President Barack Obama's state visit to Britain in 2016

The Duchess of Cambridge sporting an LK Bennett dress for a dinner at Kensington Palace, London, during former US President Barack Obama's state visit to Britain in 2016

The Duchess of Cambridge sporting an LK Bennett dress for a dinner at Kensington Palace, London, during former US President Barack Obama’s state visit to Britain in 2016

Kate, 37, wore a white and blue floral L.K.Bennett dress during a visit to Luton with national charity Youthscape in August 2016

Kate, 37, wore a white and blue floral L.K.Bennett dress during a visit to Luton with national charity Youthscape in August 2016

Kate, 37, wore a white and blue floral L.K.Bennett dress during a visit to Luton with national charity Youthscape in August 2016

‘Despite the financial woes currently experienced by some of her favourite labels however, it is the market – not Kate – that is to blame for the mass closure of many high street stores. 

‘As well as L.K.Bennett; Hobbs, Orla Kiely, Alice Temperley and Issa have all experienced significant financial difficulties.’

Although it’s a difficult time for retail, Claire claims some lower-priced brands including Zara and Primark have got it right.

She said: ‘Zara is in the enviable position to have been able to bring its manufacturing process in-house rather than outsourcing abroad, meaning costs are reduced and the brand is able to react quickly to a sudden increase in demand. 

‘At the other end of the scale, Primark is continuing to thrive due, it is said to its mass market appeal and its focus on engagement with its customers through social media.

‘It is the stores which are best able to adapt and have a supply chain flexible enough to cope with fluctuating demand and market trends which will survive. Unfortunately for the likes of L.K.Bennett and Orla Kiely, this realisation has come too late.’

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