Ex-BHS boss to lead women's fashion retailer LK Bennett

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Upmarket women's fashion chain LK Bennett is favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge

The former boss of collapsed retailer BHS will take over as chief executive of British fashion chain LK Bennett.

Darren Topp has been appointed to lead the business, which counts the Duchess of Cambridge among its customers.

It also provided Theresa May with her signature leopard print kitten heels on her first day in Downing Street.

Mr Topp endured a difficult time at BHS as the department store disappeared from the High Street just over a year after being sold by Sir Philip Green.

LK Bennett, an upmarket retailer of women's clothes and shoes, said Mr Topp was a "veteran of British retail" whose experience included 20 years at Marks and Spencer.

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Taking over from interim boss Robert Bensoussan, his task will be to boost sales, which dipped slightly to £94m last year.

Mr Bensoussan has been with LK Bennett for eight years and only planned to serve as chief executive until the company found a replacement.

The retailer has 114 shops in the UK and Ireland, including a recently opened concession in Harrods, as well as stores in the US and Middle East.

'Accessible luxury'

Despite the slight fall in sales the company is growing, due in part to better online shopping, and it opened its first Russian store at the end of August.

Mr Topp said: "LK Bennett is a fantastic business and we look forward to building on and continuing Robert's strategy of developing LK Bennett as a premium accessible luxury brand."

He will be joined by his finance guru from BHS, Michael Hitchcock, who has been appointed chief financial officer at LK Bennett.

The two repeatedly clashed with former BHS owner Dominic Chappell, who they blamed for the retailer going out of business.

In particular, Mr Topp said he challenged an attempt by Mr Chappell to transfer £1.5m of BHS money to a company owned by a friend of Mr Chappell.

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