Floral accessories retailer Cath Kidston has sold a “substantial” stake to an Asian private equity firm in a bid to further support the company’s eastern expansion.
Baring Private Equity Asia, who bought the stake, are specialised in bringing western brands to China. They currently manage $5bn worth of funds and have previously brought private school group Nord Anglia Education as well as a stake in the Indian arm of French concrete manufacturer Lafarge.
The stake value has not been disclosed, but existing shareholder TA Associates (the private equity firm that acquired a stake in 2010) are now believed to have an equal share with Baring. Cath Kidston herself and CEO Kenny Wilson have retained a minority share. A report last year estimated the group to be worth around £250m but Wilson said he would be disappointed if it was not sold for more.
No doubt Wilson’s confidence in the brand comes from the huge success it has enjoyed in Asia. The quintessentially British floral patterns have captured the attention of the Asian market; just last month the brand opened their 100th overseas store in Seoul. Whilst they currently only have four stores in China, Japan and Korea are their second most popular markets.
Wilson acknowledged the brands desire to conquer China stating that: “[Asian consumers] like the Britishness, they like the colours and they like the cheerfulness. We don’t see ourselves opening any more shops in the UK. But we’ve only got four shops in China and there’s 1.4bn people.”
Speaking about Baring he added: “Finding the right partner to help us manage the development of the Cath Kidston brand in Asia, and in particular to exploit its potential in China, was a key consideration for us. Baring Asia’s support and operational experience will be invaluable as we expand.”
It has been rumoured that Kidston hopes to open 100 new stores in China, however Dar Chen, a managing director at Baring Asia, was even more optimistic. He stated: “I can certainly see an excess of 100 stores in China”.