Cath Kidston has begun a search for an investment partner with local expertise as it plans to ramp up international expansion.

The homewares and fashion retailer wants a partner to help it open a further 50 stores in Japan, and explore other Asian countries such as Korea, Taiwan and China.

The retailer has had several unsolicited approaches to buy the chain (Retail Week, October 30). Cath Kidston commercial director Paul Spinks said that the retailer could fund its own expansion – it has £3.6m in the bank – but wants a partner with local knowledge.

He said the retailer is prepared to talk to individuals, organisations and private equity groups.

Managing director Jo Staveley said: “We’ve proved that we can open stores successfully in the UK, but we need someone that can advise us on expansion in Asia.”

Cath Kidston – which is famed for its distinctive floral prints – reported sales in its first half to March 31 jumped 69% to £22.2m, and like- for-like sales from the beginning of April to date up almost 17%.

The retailer remains focused on expansion in the UK. It has a list of 30 potential locations, including Aberdeen, Cardiff, and the City of London, for its planned six to eight openings next year.

Staveley said the retailer has also been taking advantage of empty units to test new locations with pop-up shops. She said: “With lots of shops being empty we’ve got some great deals.”

Cath Kidston currently has two 10-week pop-up shops in London on the King’s Road and in Spitalfields to cash in on Christmas trading. It will roll out more pop-up shops next year in tourist hot spots, and sites outside London.

It is also driving international appeal through its website, which accounts for 18% of total sales.