Cath Kidston has set out its vision for a digital-first future following its administration earlier this year.
The design-led lifestyle brand, founded in 1993, went into pre-pack administration at the peak of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown in April and was bought by Baring Private Equity Asia, which previously owned it. Baring now sees an economically viable future for the brand as a digital-first retailer, with ecommerce accounting for 85% of the business. While Cath Kidston previously had about 60 shops around the UK and employed about 900 people, following a restructuring it will now trade from just one – its Piccadilly, London shop which will reopen in November – and online.
Melinda Paraie, chief executive at Cath Kidston, 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.”
The retailer, which was ranked Top350 in this year’s RXUK Top500 research, says it now sees opportunities to improve the relevance of its brand and innovate its product design. It will continue to invest in digital. Over the last 18 months investment has included an ecommerce platform upgrade as well as a new CRM platform for personalised messages, and cross-border payments and shipping that will support sales to more than 200 markets by the end of the year. Now the focus will be on providing easier ways to shop while developing a streamlined, curated range and reclaiming its position as a gifting destination. New categories, such as home and kids, will reflect growing consumer demand.
At the same time Cath Kidston will focus on its international partnerships. While trading as a digital-first business in the UK, it will also work with its wholesalers and franchisees in more than 35 countries around the world. It is now targeting a return to sustained profit over the next three years. Recent new hires include Rob Silsbury, previously ecommerce and market director at The Dune Group and Holly Marler, who joins from Liberty London as creative director.
Marty Wikstrom, chair of Cath Kidston, said: “We’re optimistic about what the future holds for Cath Kidston. This 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.”