Cath Kidston opens flagship store in Shanghai
Updated: 2013-11-04 10:32
By Cecily Liu in London (China Daily)
Cath Kidston Limited, the British lifestyle brand known for its iconic floral prints, has opened a flagship store in Shanghai on Sunday, after finding success with three smaller stores opened in the city earlier this year.
"Cath Kidston has taken a conscious decision to do very little conventional advertising in China, so that customers can gain their first impression by experiencing in store, which highlights the importance of its new flagship store," says Kenny Wilson, CEO of Cath Kidston. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Its flagship store is located in what was a 1930s residential house on Shanghai's Huai Hai Road, with a retail space measuring 573 square meters.
Kenny Wilson, CEO of Cath Kidston, says the location well reflects Cath Kidston's modern vintage style. He says the bigger retail space is designed to help Chinese customers experience the brand's style and access a fuller range of products.
He says Cath Kidston has taken a conscious decision to do very little conventional advertising in China, so that customers can gain their first impression by experiencing in store, which highlights the importance of its new flagship store.
Cath Kidston was founded in 1993 when designer Cath Kidston opened the first shop in West London, selling the vintage fabrics, wallpapers and brightly-painted junk furniture Kidston remembered fondly from her English countryside childhood.
The brand began expanding into international markets in 2006 by opening a store in Tokyo. Today Cath Kidston has more than 70 stores in international markets. Products sold range from fashion and accessories to homeware and children's products.
Wilson says Cath Kidston sees great opportunities in the Chinese market, therefore has expanded in China through establishing a wholly owned foreign enterprise. In comparison, it has expanded in other Asian markets by working with a local partner.
He says it is a key decision, because expanding through WOFE requires more capital investment, but the advantage of direct control is the ability to receive feedback faster, and quickly use the feedback to make changes to satisfy customer needs. The company currently employs 42 staff in Shanghai.
Wilson said the one surprising discovery of three previous Cath Kidston stores in Shanghai is finding that Chinese customers favor the same best-selling products of the UK market more than other overseas customers.
He said the bright-colored bird pattern and mushroom pattern in dress and mugs have sold very well, as well as bags in floral pattern, bright red fire engine, and spots, and products featuring London landmarks.
" What surprised us is how similar China to the UK are, compared to China and the rest of Asia. These quirky, cheeky British prints – the Chinese customers like them as much as the British," he says.
He says Japanese and South Korean customers in comparison prefer floral patterns more. In Japan, for example, the red rose bouquet on white background pattern is a best seller.
Wilson says he travelled to Shanghai nine times last year, and noticed that bright colored clothes are popular in the city. He says this could be one reason for the colorful Cath Kidston prints to be favored in Shanghai.
In recent years, many Western affordable luxury brands like Cath Kidston have opened stores in China, targeting China's growing middle class consumers who desire quality products but cannot afford the priciest luxury. Notable examples include Michael Kors and Karen Millen.
Wilson says he hopes Cath Kidston will find its unique position within this midrange market by offering customers a big product range, so that customers from all income levels could buy its products. For example, a typical key ring may cost 6 pounds ($10), whereas a dress may cost 70 pounds.
He says he hopes Cath Kidston in the Chinese market will be seen as a brand customers wish to buy to make themselves happy, as opposed to buying to demonstrate one's social status, because Cath Kidston is much more affordable than top end luxury brands.
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