Asia powers Cath Kidston profits

Cath Kidston has reported a boost in international sales of 20.2 per cent in the last trading year, with Asia, including Singapore,  clearly driving the brand’s success.

In the first full year’s trading results since the brand’s founder and namesake stepped down as creative director, the company is finding its distinctive designs are proving more popular in Asia than in the UK.

Group sales rose just 2.4 per cent to £118.5 million, but of that, international sales accounted for  £55.3 million.

Cath Kidston has had stores trading in Japan – now its largest international market – for nearly a decade. It has a store in Singapore’s Ion Orchard and a local Facebook following of more than 21,000 people.

“Sales of Cath Kidston teacups and floral bags in Japan have helped boost the group’s international sales massively,” observes British online retail news site Retail Gazette. “They really love that kitsch print over there.”

Internationally, Cath Kidston has just surpassed 200 stores, with 135 of those outside the UK.

But Retail Gazette reports the brand has come under increasing pressure from rival homewares retailers at home.

“As a result of investing in Asian distribution operations and expanding into the Middle East, underlying profits have fallen from £16 million to £9 million.”

From Japan, Cath Kidston has expanded in Asia into China, Korea, Singapore and Malaysia.

Said CEO Kenny Wilson: “The investments we have taken now will start to benefit us in the next three or four years. Cath Kidston is now an international brand but we want it to be a global brand.”

Wilson believes key factors in the brand’s Asian success is the “quintessential Britishness of the brand” and the growing demand for feminine, floral patterns and products that distil a “country life” aesthetic in urban Asian cities.

* Update: Cath Kidston has since closed its Singapore retail outlets, but continues to to serve locals via its e-commerce site.

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