// Cath Kidston announces brand transformation plans, with core focus on digital acceleration & global growth
// Follows restructuring in April, and Cath Kidston says ecommerce now accounts for 85% of its business
// It wants to improve digital presence & international partnerships to deliver profitability over the next 3 years
// Cath Kidston also announced two new senior management hires as part of the turnaround
Cath Kidston has announced a transformation plan with a core focus on digital acceleration and global growth, after completing an administration process earlier this year.
With renewed support and investment from parent company Baring Private Equity Asia, Cath Kidston said it has realigned its cost base and structure to create an “economically viable operating model” as a brand-led, digital first retailer.
The fashion and lifestyle retailer added that since the administration and subsequent restructure that took place in April, ecommerce now accounts for 85 per cent of its business.
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As part of its new turnaround plan, Cath Kidston said it identified opportunities to bolster brand relevance and product innovation, as well as improve its digital presence and international partnerships to deliver a “sustained profitability model” over the next three years.
The retailer added that it would draw on its British heritage to operate as a digital-first retailer in the UK.
However, it said Cath Kidston would re-open its Piccadilly store in London next month, which would operate as the global flagship and its only high street store in the UK.
The retailer also said it would seek to leverage its wholesale relationships and franchise partnerships in over 35 countries.
Over the last 18 months, Cath Kidston has been investing in its digital infrastructure by upgrading its ecommerce platform, activating a CRM platform to enhance tailored customer interactions, and instituting a cross-border payment and shipping solution to open up over 200 markets by the end of this year.
Other transformation measures include streamlining Cath Kidston’s product range by curating content for customers in more meaningful ways, and refining the offer to focus on key products and easier ways to shop.
The retailer has ambitions to reclaim its status as a gifting destination where one in five UK customers have either bought or received a Cath Kidston gift, and will continue to build new categories to reflect growing consumer demand in areas such as home and kids.
Growth plans also include significant investment in its people, appointing two senior hires to join the London leadership team.
Holly Marler, formerly design director at Liberty London, joined in October as creative director, overseeing the brand creative and product evolution.
Meanwhile Rob Silsbury, formerly global ecommerce and marketing director at Dune, joined in September, as digital director to lead Cath Kidston’s online growth.
Cath Kidston chief executive Melinda Paraie said: “We truly believe that Cath Kidston is a brand for our time, and we have worked incredibly hard to create a sustainable, profitable future for the brand following our restructuring.
“Our customers sit at the heart of our new strategy, and it was fundamental to our vision that we could maintain Cath Kidston’s role of inspiring the everyday optimist with our hand drawn prints and joyful products.
“Particularly as we all face our new normal world, the role of bringing moments of joy to everyday is even more relevant.”
Cath Kidston chair Marty Wikstrom said: “[Cath Kidston] is a brand with a powerful heritage and loyal customer following that has pivoted its business strategy to ensure that it is positioned for success in a changing retail environment.”
When Cath Kidston fell into administration during the height of the nationwide lockdown in April, it led to the closure of 60 of its UK stores and the loss of 908 jobs.
Baring Private Equity Asia had secured a pre-pack administration deal that saw it buy back Cath Kidston’s brand, wholesale and online operations.
The retailer’s 100-plus stores overseas, especially in Asia, were untouched from the administration process.