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Next has bought the Cath Kidston brand name for £8.5m, after the vintage-inspired British retailer fell into administration for the second time in two years.
It is understood that about 125 jobs are at risk as administrators from PricewaterhouseCoopers are set close the four UK Cath Kidston stores – in London, Ashford, Cheshire Oaks and York – once stock is sold off. The brand’s website is also being licensed back to the administrators for 12 weeks.
The acquisition marks the latest step by Next to add to its brand portfolio, which already includes the rights to distribute US fashion chains Gap and Victoria’s Secret in the UK, while fashion brand Joules and online furnishings specialist Made.com were also bought out of administration by Next.
The clothing and homewares retailer is using its expertise in online marketing and distribution to help ailing brands maintain a presence in the UK. It is also using some of these brands to fill spare space in its high street stores while broadening their appeal to a wider audience.
Zelf Hussain, joint administrator and partner at PwC, said: “Cath Kidston is a well-loved lifestyle brand founded in 1993 and I am pleased to say that it has been bought by Next who will make sure it continues to flower under their ownership.
“The company has over recent years navigated through incredibly challenging market conditions including the pandemic restrictions, and most recently the decline in consumer spending driven by cost of living pressures and rising costs.”
Cath Kidston, known for its whimsical retro prints, once had 60 UK stores as well as franchise outlets around the world. It was bought by restructuring experts Hilco in July 2020 but was put on the market again earlier this year.
The brand’s eponymous founder, an interior designer who worked with celebrity decorator Nicky Haslam, opened her first store in London’s Notting Hill in 1993, selling decorated tea towels and bric-a-brac.
She sold her stake in the business some years ago, and the brand previously called in administrators in April 2020 as part of an attempted rescue deal by Hong Kong-based Baring Private Equity Asia.