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Cath Kidston seeks white knight buyer as strategic review ordered

Cath Kidston has hired external advisers to complete an urgent review of strategic options for the business as it makes a last-minute appeal for a white knight rescuer. 

Owned by Baring Private Equity Asia, the UK-headquartered clothing and homewares retailer was already struggling financially before the advent of the coronavirus which has forced stores to close in multiple markets and seen consumers suspend discretionary shopping.

The company has about 100 stores internationally, mostly in Asia, and about 60 in the UK with a global payroll of around 2700. 

During the past two full trading years its losses have totalled around US$31 million and companies invited to submit bids for the business have reportedly been told the company lost a further $13 million in the nine months to last December.

According to UK media reports, the new CEO Melinda Paraie had achieved some success in turning the company around prior to the advent of the coronavirus crisis. Underperforming stores had been closed, head office staff ranks culled and resources deployed to increasing online sales.

According to a Sky News report in the UK, potential bidders have been told to submit bids imminently.  

If Cath Kidston collapses, it will follow fellow Asian-owned retail business Laura Ashley, which called in administrators last week. Both brands operate a similar hybrid fashion-homewares retail offer. 

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