Cath Kidston has had stores in Japan for nearly 10 years. As the biggest international market for the British retailer, it plays a leading role in the strategy to globalise the brand. Sales of Cath Kidston teacups and floral bags in Japan have helped boost the group’s international sales massively. They really love that kitsch print over there.
The maiden full-year results since Cath Kidston stepped down as creative director of the namesake company she founded in 1993, illustrate the likability of the brand overseas.
Accounts filed at Companies House have revealed that international retail sales were up by 20.2% to £55.3m, and encouraged group sales by 2.4% to £118.5m.
Now Cath Kidston has also passed the 200-store mark, with 135 outlets located outside Britain.
In the UK however, the homewares company has faced pressure from other high street retailers, and sales have subsequently declined. As a result of investing in Asian distribution operations and expanding into the Middle East, underlying profits have fallen from £16m to £9m.
Chief Exec Kenny Wilson, who joined the company in 2011 from Claire’s Accessories, said: “Our margin has remained relatively flat but that is because we have made some really significant investments in the business [in Asia]. When I first joined this business we only had six stores in Japan and four in Korea, but over the last four years we have built out the footprint of the brand in Asia.
The investments we have taken now will start to benefit us in the next three or four years. Cath Kidston is now an international brand but we want it to be a global brand.”
Wilson added that part of Cath Kidston’s success in Asia was down to the quintessential Britishness of the brand as well as a growing demand for feminine, floral patterns and products that distil a “country life” aesthetic in urban Asian cities.
Although sales had slowed in China, Wilson cited that all stores were still profitable and that “business was doing very nicely in Asia”. Global expansion will continue, potentially into the US but for now that remains as research.
Wilson has extensive pan-European experience, having spent 18 years overseeing Levi Strauss.