Cath Kidston's Asian expansion plans proves 'Britain' still sells

The company behind those ubiquitous floral patterns is selling a stake to fund new stores in China.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2014

Cath Kidston, the purveyor of just about anything that can be adorned with its chintzy floral prints, is selling a stake to a Hong Kong private equity house as it expands in China. Companies that scream ‘Britain’  - the sanitised, non-binge drinking version - can clearly still make big money in Asia (or maybe they just haven’t got fed up of it yet).

Baring Asia bought a ‘significant’ stake from existing private equity investor TA Associates, which owned 65% before the deal, and company management. Cath Kidston herself sold down some of her 20% share in the business she founded. Baring and TA now have an equal share, although nothing was given away about the new stake sizes or the money involved.

The retailer, whose sales rose 10% to £116m in the year to March, currently has 100 stores across east and south east Asia, with four in mainland China, on top of 66 in the UK and nine in the rest of Europe. Baring Asia managing director Dar Chen told the FT he could ‘certainly see an excess of 100 stores in China’, although he refused to say how fast expansion would be.

Last December, Cath Kidston got UBS on board to ‘assess its options’ and Uniqlo was rumoured to be in the running to buy it for £250m. At the time chief exec Kenny Wilson said he would be ‘disappointed’ to sell for that much, telling the FT, ‘We are one of the UK’s fastest-growing companies. We are not going to randomly sell for £250m.’

Given a deal took its time in coming, presumably it’s not entirely ‘random’.


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