LONDON — Cath Kidston, the British lifestyle brand known for its retro prints and vintage-inspired merchandise, is exploring strategic options, including finding a new investor, as coronavirus begins to weigh on an already troubled business.
The brand, purchased by Baring Private Equity Asia in 2016, registered a loss of 15.4 million pounds in fiscal 2018, according to its most recent accounts on Companies House. Sales that year were 119.8 million pounds. Popular in Asia-Pacific and Japan in particular, Cath Kidston said at the time it had struggled due to the devaluation of the pound following the 2016 Brexit referendum.
According to a company spokesperson, the brand has been “actively implementing a new business strategy to support growth while managing the many pressures in the retail sector. This includes dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19, which has been impacting the business globally since the beginning of the year.”
The spokesperson said the company is now looking to “explore options for the business, to enable the management team to continue implementing their strategy to deliver growth.” The process is in its early stages.
The brand has more than 200 stores, including a flagship on Piccadilly in London. The brand said in its statements to Companies House that its collaborations with Disney had been successful, as had its online business.
William Flanz, senior adviser to Baring Asia since 2003, and the former chairman and chief executive officer of Gucci Group NV, is chairman of Cath Kidston Group, while Melinda Paraie, formerly of John Hardy, Coach and J. Crew, is the ceo spearheading the turnaround. Retail veteran Martha Wikstrom also serves as a non-executive director.
The brand was founded in 1993 by Cath Kidston and is based in the U.K. It is sold across 15 countries in Asia and the Middle East, with the bulk of its business outside the U.K.
Cath Kidston’s quaint British aesthetic has a particular resonance in Asia, where many of the stores also house cafés, offering tea, scones and cakes.
Back in 2016, Flanz, who was Domenico De Sole’s predecessor at Gucci, said he was looking forward to driving the company forward as the majority owner. “We believe the Cath Kidston brand and business have great potential to grow across the globe, and are committed to delivering on that potential and securing the longer-term success of the company.”