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LK Bennett's For Sale sign puts buyers on bid alert

Womenswear retailer LK Bennett has appointed investment giant Rothschild to lead the sale of the chain, three years after a previous £75 million sale collapsed.

The move is the second attempt at a sale by founder and ‘queen of the kitten heel’ Linda Bennett.

Private equity firm Hawkpoint are understood to be eyeing the business. Icelandic investor Baugur, private equity firm Change Capital and womenswear business Hobbs, backed by private equity company 3i, were all said to have been interested last time and are expected to look again.

One industry source added: “It would make more sense for a trade buyer to make a play because if Linda retired, merging with an existing business would make sense.”

More than 30 potential buyers circled LK Bennett when it was first put up for sale in December 2004. But Bennett was unable to settle on a price, and pulled out.

It is unclear whether Bennett would stay at the retailer as part of a deal.

A source close to the chain said it was in a stronger position than three years ago. “The business has been transformed,” he said.

LK Bennett has 72 stores in the UK and one in Paris. A spokeswoman would not confirm a sale, but said Rothschild had been appointed to assess the business’s options.

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