Quintessentially British homewares brand Cath Kidston is poised to launch its first stores in Singapore and Indonesia as it eyes further overseas expansion.
The move comes as the retailer reported that EBITDA jumped 13% to £21m in its year to March 31, 2013. In the period, the number of overseas Cath Kidston stores overtook domestic shops for the first time. The retailer operated 58 shops in the UK and 60 overseas by the end of March.
Cath Kidston chief executive Kenny Wilson said: “It’s very important that as a British brand, we have a strong business in the UK, and it’s extremely important for us to do well here. But the real growth will come [from our] expansion as a global consumer brand.”
Outside of the UK, Cath Kidston already operates shops in Spain, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and China, where it has three stores, all in Shanghai. It will open another Shanghai store, a 6,000 sq ft flagship, in November.
Wilson said he can see room for 80 Cath Kidston stores in the UK, and even more than that in China alone. “We’ve been predominantly expanding in Asia, the Asian consumer finds the brand appealing,” he said. “We believe we can have more stores in China than we do in the UK. We’ll open in Singapore and Indonesia in the coming months. Our head’s facing east. But we’re not rushing it.”
Wilson declined to say how many stores the brand could have globally, but said expansion would be done in a considered manner, and that it would use its online offer to determine where its customers are in the world. He added that the US would be on the expansion agenda soon.
Cath Kidston opened eight UK stores and 25 overseas shops last year, and Wilson said the retailer would be opening a “similar number” this year.
International retail sales soared 53% while UK sales climbed 21%. Overall, group sales increased by 19% to £105m in the year. Shopper numbers were up “single digit”, driven by more tourists, which Wilson put down to the “Olympic halo effect”.
Wilson declined to give like-for-likes but said the retailer was “happy” with the number.
He added that since year end Cath Kidston has “continued to see strong growth of the brand”.
“It’s all about the product and the brand,” said Wilson. “Our product is aspirational and affordable. You can buy a luggage tag for £5 or a suitcase for £115. It appeals to everyone.”
Wilson, who pointed out that in the last three years sales have more than doubled at the retailer, added that Cath Kidston has “massive growth potential”.
Online trading was “extremely good” in the year according to Wilson, with web sales now representing 20% of total sales in the UK. Click and collect accounted for 12% of web sales.
Cath Kidston opened a concession in Harrods on Friday and is preparing to open its largest store to date on Piccadilly in early December. The store will cover 7,000 sq ft, much larger than the average 1,600 sq ft Cath Kidston shop, and will offer “VIP shopping experiences” including personal shopping and potentially a hotel delivery service, said Wilson.
He added the larger space will enable Cath Kidston to display the product through room sets. “It allows us to give full space to merchandise,” he said.
There are no plans to open similar flagships in other UK cities, he said.
Wilson said he was optimistic on the outlook. “We think we can grow even in an economically challenging environment,” he said. “There’s definitely a renewed optimism in the UK, although we are in the early stages in terms of recovery.