Its the brand that defines Prince George’s style and its kidswear sells out globally. Michelle Carty-Laws, Head of Kidswear Buying, reveals how Cath Kidston adapted to become a global retail star
The kids department within Cath Kidston is one of the fastest growing departments in the company and we’ve seen great success over recent years; globally, kids sales were worth 13% of the brand’s total sales last year.
We have, of course, gone through a growth and transition period over recent years. In 2006, we opened the first of our Japanese stores followed by Korea and additional Asian markets, with the kids range being particularly well-received amongst the Asian customer base. The brand has since grown to become truly global, now in 16 countries around the world.
At Cath Kidston, we work in a unique way in terms of team structures. We have a significantly larger print design team versus the product design teams, while our buying teams are also product developers who work in a creative way to develop the collection based on seasonal heroes. The strength of being a British, design-led brand has generated some real success stories for us.
Globally, customers are picking up on our iconic Guards and London prints as well as the classic florals Cath Kidston is known for. Take our Guards Tank Top for example – this style sold out globally across the business after launching in Autumn/Winter 2013 and following this success we’ve re-introduced the Guards knit design for Christmas 2015, but re-worked as a knitted Christmas jumper.
Initially we were developing a UK-focused range with some special items suited to the needs of the Asian market that we may not necessarily sell in the UK stores. This buying model worked in the early stages but, as our business grew, it was imperative we took a more global approach.
We regularly travel to all of the markets our products are sold in, ensuring we spend as much time with our international franchise partners and stores as possible. We research global and local trends and ensure we maintain a deep-rooted understanding of the local market so we can adapt in order to best satisfy the needs of our customers.
This work is carried out in the early part of the development process, along with other research in the UK and Europe. We then collate all of this information to ideas boards for each category within kids showing the inspiration globally. Innovation is a key driver for us. We take our learnings and use them to develop new products to excite the customer in the UK and our international markets.
We work very closely alongside our print designers. As we are creating new product ideas, they are creating innovative prints that pull inspiration from vintage, archive and modern ideas, working collaboratively to make sure the product we develop has the required prints needed.
This work then flows through our sign off process until we reach the stage of producing final samples in the correct prints and fabrication for Range Freeze. These finished samples are presented to our franchise partners at the International Buying Fair; the final stage of our global development process.
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