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New boss hunt at LK Bennett

LK Bennett is on the hunt for a chief executive following the sale of the womenswear-to-footwear retailer to private equity firms Phoenix Equity Partners and Sirius Equity this week.

Linda Bennett, the hugely influential and hands-on founder of the company, retained a stake of about 30% in the business following the deal.

She has now moved to a non-executive position, prompting the hunt for a permanent chief executive to lead the business and develop its strategy under the new ownership.

Robert Bensoussan, the former chief executive of Jimmy Choo, former chairman of handbag brand Radley and the co-founder of Sirius Equity, has been appointed chairman of LK Bennett (Drapers, June 21).

Bensoussan will act as interim chief executive until the appointment has been made.

He said: “The chief executive will focus 100% of his or her time on company development. As both an investor and a director, I will still have the possibility for some input on strategy.”

He added that Phoenix and Sirius had big expansion plans for the business.

He said: “Our international priority will be in Europe, emerging countries and the Middle East. We have ideas about how to enter the US but it is not easy, and the state of the retail market means it won’t be a priority for us now.”

Bensoussan said there was potential for at least 120 outlets in the UK. The business already has 90, which are a mixture of standalones and department store concessions.

He said: “We think we can get growth in the UK through our existing stores. We want to develop densities per square foot. There are many ways of doing that but it is too early to talk about at this stage.”

Bensoussan said he would also look at signing licensing deals tied to the UK market.

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