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Cath Kidston secures future with “digital-led” approach

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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British retailer Cath Kidston, known for its vintage prints and cutesy florals, has secured the future of its e-commerce platform, and franchise and wholesale businesses, while leaving its store estate facing permanent closure.

The management team of Cath Kidston confirmed in a statement that “parts of the business” have been transferred by administrators following an independent sale process, to CK Acquisitions Limited, a company controlled by private equity firm Baring Private Equity Asia, which has held a stake in the British retailer since 2014.

While the sale does secure the future of the brand, the bid did not include Cath Kidston’s store portfolio, including 60 in the UK, which will now be managed by the administrators, Alvarez and Marsal.

Under the terms of the transaction, Baring Private Equity Asia will retain Cath Kidston’s e-commerce platform and franchise and wholesale businesses, which it states will develop the company into a “brand-first, digital-led” retailer with a “global reach”.

The transaction follows a review of the business by Cath Kidston’s management team which explored all options for securing a viable future for the business. Baring Private Equity Asia’s bid was determined to be the one which offered the “highest value and best opportunity to secure the future of the business,” explained the company.

Baring Private Equity Asia acquires Cath Kidston online, franchise and wholesale businesses

Melinda Paraie, chief executive of Cath Kidston, said: “While we are pleased that the future of Cath Kidston has been secured, this is obviously an extremely difficult day as we say goodbye to many colleagues. Despite our very best efforts, against the backdrop of Covid-19, we were unable to secure a solvent sale of the business which would have allowed us to avoid administration and carry on trading in our current form. I would like to thank all our employees for their hard work, loyalty and patience over the last few weeks as we worked through this process.

“We now look to the future and are focused on transforming Cath Kidston into a brand-first, digital-led business with a continuing mission to brighten customers’ lives with our much-loved, British-inspired prints and designs.”

A spokesperson for Baring Private Equity Asia, added: “While we are disappointed that the Covid-19 crisis has resulted in the cessation of the retail store network and impacted many employees, we are pleased to have secured a future for a number of Cath Kidston staff and the Cath Kidston brand in the form of a viable digital business.

“Going forward we will continue to help the company grow through its e-commerce platform and international wholesale and franchise businesses. We would like to thank Melinda and the company’s management team for their hard work in managing through this difficult economic crisis and establishing a viable future for the business in the UK.”

Cath Kidston was founded in 1993 with a single shop in London’s Holland Park and it expanded to more than 200 stores in more than 15 countries. The brand is widely recognised for its vintage-inspired fashion for women and children, home furnishings and accessories.

In 2019, the British brand launched a new strategy to reposition itself towards a younger audience, in which was called at the time a “pivotal” move by heritage brand, and came in light of its 10.5 million pound loses for the year to March 25, 2018.

Image: courtesy of Cath Kidston

Baring Private Equity Asia
Cath Kidston