theresa may in british designers
Prime Minister Theresa May struck a vibrant look in LK Bennett heels when she and her husband entered No. 10 for the first timeGetty Images

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

Darren Topp will take the helm of the chain which dresses the Duchess of Cambridge, and provided Theresa May with her signature leopard-print kitten heels on her first day in Downing Street.

Topp will take over from the firm's co-founder Robert Bensoussan, who returns to his previous role as chairman.

The new chief executive will be tasked with boosting sales at the 114-shop chain, which saw sales fall 1.8% to £93.6m ($127m, €113m) last year.

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."

In a double swoop by the chain Topp will be joined by his former BHS finance chief, Michael Hitchcock, who joins LK Bennett as chief financial officer.

Topp endured a tumultuous period in charge of BHS, which collapsed in April, just over a year after Sir Philip Green sold the business for £1 to Retail Acquisitions, a consortium headed by Dominic Chappell.

Darren Topp
Darren ToppToby Melville/Reuters

His relationship with Chappell quickly soured, with Topp later alleging to a panel of MPs investigating the chain's collapse in June that the former had threatened to kill him.

''If you kick off about it, I'll come down there and kill you,'' he said Chappell told him after he questioned the former racing driver over a £1.5m transfer of BHS money to Sweden. Chappell denies saying this.

The department store's collapse has affected 11,000 jobs, 22,000 pensions, sparked a lengthy parliamentary inquiry and left its high-profile former owners potentially facing a criminal investigation.

The final BHS stores were closed last month, bringing to an end 88 years of retail history.