Kitten-heel queen sells up

lindabennett.jpgHurrah for Linda Bennett, who’s today £100m richer having sold a controlling share of her 100% stake in designer shoe retailer, LK Bennett.The sale tops off what’s been a true entrepreneurial success story.A graduate of renowned shoe design college Cordwainers, Bennett got experience of the manufacturing process at Robert Clergerie’s factory before working on the shop floors at Whistles and Joseph.Having spotted a gap in the market for the ‘kitten heel’ being paraded down the catwalks, Bennett opened her own shop in Wimbledon in 1980, using £13,000 savings and a £15,000 bank loan. Dubbed the ‘kitten-heel queen’ she now has more than 70 shops across the UK.Bennett hasn’t always enjoyed the nicest of press, however. Notoriously media-shy, she rarely gives interviews and has paid the price at the poisoned pen of several scorned journalists.For want of an example, in 2004 The Sunday Times dubbed her, “short, stocky... dressed head to foot in black like a rather beautiful hamster off to a funeral”. Around the same time there was little sympathy when Bennett withdrew the company from sale when bidders failed to match her £75m valuation – especially when Tamara Mellon offloaded Jimmy Choo for an extra £25m.I guess she’s the one laughing today, especially as none of those papers seem to have any quotes to go with the story!Aside, the deal also has to be seen as a big positive among the retail doom and gloom. Buyers Pheonix Equity Partners have proved there’s still room for top level acquisitions, while the fact LK Bennett saw a significant jump in profits on £45m sales in the first half of 2008 to attract the bid can’t be a bad sign either.

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