Baring Asia snaps up UK fashion label Cath Kidston

A shareholder in the company since July 2014, the Hong Kong-based private equity firm bought TA Associates’s majority stake as it looks to expand the brand in Asia and across the globe.

Baring Asia has snapped up fashion and home furnishings label Cath Kidston for an undisclosed sum, as the Hong Kong-based private equity firm looks to expand the British brand in Asia and across the globe.

Cath Kidston opened in 1993 as a single shop in London’s Holland Park, selling vintage fabrics and furniture painted in bright colours. It now counts 226 stores located in 15 countries across Asia and the Middle East.

Boston-based private equity firm TA Associates acquired Cath Kidston in March 2010 in a deal that valued the company at about £100 million ($128.69; €114.73), the Financial Times reported at the time. Now that TA has sold its equity stake, the firm has fully exited the business.

Baring Asia, which closed its record $3.99 billion Fund VI in 2015 – one of the largest ever raised by an Asia-based private equity firm – has been a shareholder in Cath Kidston since July 2014, when it acquired a substantial stake from the company’s management team and TA.

“When Baring first invested just over two years ago we said we wanted to find the right partner to help us manage the development of the brand in Asia and exploit its full potential, and Baring has been invaluable in helping us do this,” Cath Kidston chief executive Kenny Wilson said in a statement.

Under private equity ownership, Cath Kidston has continued to grow and expand. The year that Baring Asia made its initial investment, the company’s group sales rose 10 percent to £116 million for the twelve months to 30 March 2014, and international retail sales soared by 37 percent to £46 million, while EBITDA increased 19 percent to £25 million.

In the two years since, the number of Asian stores has risen from 91 to 133. This autumn the first stores in India will open with a launch in Delhi, and more will follow in Mumbai.

As part of the transition, William Flanz, senior advisor to Baring Asia and a former chairman and chief executive of Gucci Group, is taking on the role of chairman at Cath Kidston. He succeeds Paul Mason, who is leaving after six years.

“We believe the Cath Kidston brand and business have great potential to grow across the globe, and are committed to delivering on that potential and securing the longer-term success of the company,” Flanz said in a statement.