Cath Kidston buys back Japanese stores

<p>The company is demonstrating its ambitions to expand overseas.</p>

Retailer Cath Kidston has demonstrated its ambitions to expand overseas by buying back its Japanese stores from conglomerate TSI Holdings.

TSI has been running Cath Kidston as a franchise in Japan since 2011 and operates 31 shops throughout the country. That's compared to 65 shops here in the UK.

Cath Kidston, a brand known for its decorative floral patterns, believes that it could double in size, reports the Telegraph.

Last year, Baring Private Equity Asia bought a stake in the brand to help it boost expansion in Asia. Along with TA Associates, Baring controls the Cath Kidston brand, while founder Cath Kidston owns a minority stake in the business.

Sales in Japan have grown by 17 per cent each year and the company's handbags are particularly popular. Overall, Japan accounts for one-fifth of Cath Kidston's sales.

Overseas expansion

Kenny Wilson, chief executive of Cath Kidston indicated that the company intends to expand its reach in Japan. He says that they plan to have 50 to 55 stores there in the future.

Commenting on the move to buy back the Japanese stores, he explained: "We wanted to get greater control of the brand and we just get closer to the consumer. It is challenging, but it is about putting the right people on the ground."

​He added: "I don't think it is about doing a better job [than TSI]. It is a massive public company in Japan, and they have got a lot of things to focus on. You can do anything, but you can't do everything. We wouldn't be arrogant enough to say we are going to do a much better job than Sanei."

The price paid for the stores has not been disclosed, but Cath Kidston did note that the brand would be taking control of the Japanese business from September.

​Mr Wilson added that the business had seen "new energy and new knowledge" since Baring bought its stake last year, however, running the business had been different since Ms Kidston stepped down as creative director.

"Cath is still there for me," he explained. "There have been a few times this year when I have appreciated her counsel. She said she would be there for me. Her name is above the door."

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