River Island has set its sights on a slice of the £4.6bn kidswear market, joining a raft of middle-market players taking advantage of parents shopping in its stores.

The fashion chain will launch its first kidswear range for boys and girls aged three to 10 next month online and in selected stores.

Childrenswear has become a key battleground for fashion retailers, with Next, Primark and the supermarkets growing presence and share in the market.

River Island has been expanding into other fashion areas in the past year, with a maternity range launched in August.

According to market research group Verdict, Next now dominates kidswear with a 10% share of

the market.

Next is closely followed by supermarkets Asda and Tesco, which hold shares of 9.3% and 7.2% respectively. The other retailers in the top six are value chains Primark, Matalan and H&M.

Kidswear is also a strong performer for fashion retailers New Look and Marks & Spencer.

The dominance of these retailers in the kids’ fashion space has spelt trouble for specialist childrenswear retailers on the high street.

Adams, which went into administration for the third time in three years last month, was still without a buyer as Retail Week went to press. It is understood that there is now unlikely to be a serious bidder for the troubled chain.

Verdict analyst Maureen Hinton said: “Specialist kidswear retailers have to drive through very high volumes to cover their costs and that is difficult in the middle market, as Adams has found. Mid-market retailers like River Island who have a distinctive style should fare better, because mothers buy the product themselves and will buy into the same style for their children.”