LONDON – Linda Bennett is back at the helm of L.K. Bennett with a new majority stake in the footwear firm she founded in 1990 as a single shop in Wimbledon.She has effectively bought back the business, having increased her investment in the company by acquiring the remaining equity in L.K. Bennett Limited from Phoenix Equity Partners for an undisclosed sum."Working closely with the L.K. Bennett team over the past few months has given me a real sense of excitement and confidence in the potential of the brand,” Bennett said Wednesday. “We want to focus on making beautiful clothing and footwear for women of all ages. I’m thrilled to be back in the business."The company declined to comment further on the new shareholding structure or the size of Bennett’s new stake.In July, 2008 Bennett sold the business to Phoenix Equity Partners and Sirius Equity, but kept a 30 percent stake and remained a non-executive director.Darren Topp, chief executive officer of L.K. Bennett, said Wednesday the management team is “delighted that Linda has demonstrated her continued commitment to the business. Linda has been working with the team since April of this year improving the product, growing the business and supporting the changes we began to make when I joined the company last year. We look forward to accelerating that change in the future to ensure the brand’s continued success in today's retail environment.”The company has more than 260 shops and concessions in more than 30 countries around the world.Phoenix Equity Partners said that on its watch “the chain has significantly expanded its overseas footprint, and its online presence has been greatly enhanced. We wish Linda, Darren and the team every success in the years to come.”As reported in 2008, Phoenix and Sirius were thought to have paid between 80 million pounds and 100 million pounds for their stake in L.K. Bennett, although the terms of the deal were never disclosed.Over the past decade, they expanded the reach of the brand, opening in new markets and building up the retail and wholesale networks. They also built up the women's wear offer and added a dose of glamour, tapping models and actresses such as Stella Tennant, Laura Bailey, Rosamund Pike and Emily Mortimer for campaigns and collaborations.The Duchess of Cambridge has also been a longtime supporter, and over the years has been photographed wearing nude L.K. Bennett platforms or black espadrille wedges.
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