Feb. 18 - British designers showing their latest collections at London Fashion Week have long been popular with Asian consumers. But 20-year-old UK retailer Cath Kidston wants to dress Asian shoppers and their homes with its traditional British prints, as it steps up its shop openings across the region. Joanna Partridge reports
High-end British brands like Burberry and Mulberry have been dressing Asian fashionistas for years. Now UK retailer Cath Kidston wants to kit out Asian shoppers and their homes with its traditional British fabrics and designs. SOUNDBITE: Kenny Wilson, CEO of Cath Kidston, saying (English): "This season we've got a number of new prints that we've introduced to the collection. This print here "Trains" has been extremely successful for us around the world. Another great seasonal print that we've got is "Cottage". Again this is the prints that we would bring in, have them in the range for six months and then move on to something different. Whereas every season we always have classic prints." 2013 should be a big year for CEO Kenny Wilson - as the brand celebrates its 20th anniversary. Cath opened her first store selling home furnishings in London in 1993. And the products continue to sell well in their home market - defying high street troubles and racking up a 24% increase in sales before Christmas. PTC Cath Kidston's best known for its colourful prints. The brand says its cheerful and witty designs have easily made themselves at home in Asia. And by the end of the year, Cath Kidston will have more stores in the region than in the UK. Two recent openings in Shanghai are just the beginning. SOUNDBITE: Kenny Wilson, CEO of Cath Kidston, saying (English): "Key markets that we're going to be looking at across Asia are Japan, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and obviously a major focus on China. I'd envisage that we're going to try and open in excess of 30 stores in Asia this year." The accessories and homewares have been a hit in Japan for some time - it's the company's number two market. The products are a cultural fit too says Neil Saunders from retail research agency Conlumino. SOUNDBITE: Neil Saunders, Managing Director, Conlumino, saying (English): "It's very differentiated. It provides a very distinct and very unique, well-designed product, that people buy into. Now in the UK it goes down very well, but of course in Asia it has the added cachet of being that British heritage brand and Asian consumers, especially the rising middle class, really buy into that kind of style." Cath Kidston's not immune from the fast turnaround demanded from the fashion world. To keep the range fresh, they introduce around 70 new prints every 6 months. For now, their designs and Asian expansion are coming up roses.