Cath Kidston x Disney Collection

LONDON — British lifestyle brand Cath Kidston, which offers kitschy, retro-style merchandise ranging from oven mitts to women’s knitwear, has a new majority owner in Baring Private Equity Asia.

Baring, one of the largest independent private equity firms in Asia, already had a stake in the lifestyle brand, which has 226 stores, including a flagship on Piccadilly in London. It bought out TA Associates, which had held shares in Cath Kidston since 2010, becoming the brand’s majority, controlling shareholder.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

William Flanz, senior advisor to Baring Asia since 2003, and the former chairman and chief executive officer of Gucci Group NV, will become chairman of Cath Kidston Group, replacing Paul Mason, who is stepping down after six years in the role.

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 70 percent of its 226 stores located outside of the U.K.

Since Baring Asia’s initial investment in 2014, the number of Asian stores has increased from 91 to 133. Cath Kidston’s first stores in India are set to open in early autumn 2016 with two set for New Delhi, and ones in Mumbai to follow. The company said Asia has been a key strategic priority for Cath Kidston Group for some years, and Baring Asia’s expertise in the region was, and continues to be, a prime attraction.

“We are entering a really exciting new stage under a single owner,” said Kenny Wilson, ceo of Cath Kidston. “When Baring first invested just over two years ago, we said we wanted to find the right partner to help us manage the development of the brand in Asia and exploit its full potential, and Baring has been invaluable in helping us do this.

“This year has been our most successful start to the year, proving the strength of our product and the continued and growing appeal of the brand to existing and new customers. We are very excited about the future,” he added.

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.

Flanz, who was Domenico De Sole’s predecessor at Gucci, said he is 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.”

Most recently, the brand has begun collaborating with Disney, with Winnie-the-Pooh the first character to feature in the Disney x Cath Kidston collection. The brand said last week that most Pooh products were gone within hours of the launch, and that it was selling one mug a minute bearing the image of the famous bear.

The second Disney collection will have products with Mickey and Minnie Mouse integrated with Cath Kidston’s house patterns. They will arrive in store and online on Dec. 5. Further collections are set to roll out over time, with the Disney characters for these future ranges to be announced in due course.

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