Uniqlo owner in talks to buy out Cath Kidston

 
Michael Bow
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THE OWNER of high street fashion chain Uniqlo is leading a pack of suitors hoping to take control of UK homeware company Cath Kidston.

Japanese company Fast Retailing, which is listed in Hong Kong and Tokyo, has approached Cath Kidston’s private equity backers TA Associates about acquiring its 65 per cent controlling stake in the company.

L Capital, a private equity firm backed by Louis Vuitton-owner LVMH, has also held discussions with TA and its bankers from UBS, who have been appointed to handle the sale, about buying TA’s stake.

“The company have been talking to both of them but whether a sale is concluded or not remains to be seen,” a source said.

Uniqlo, Fast Retailing’s main subsidiary, has a UK presence but is isolated to London and the south east only, with nine stores in London and one at the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent.

The Cath Kidston company is owned by TA and its founder and namesake designer Cath Kidston and management, who own 23 per cent and 12 per cent of the firm respectively.

If the company is sold, both Kidston and management are expected to maintain their minority stakes in the business.

TA, which also owns online mail order retailer M and M Direct in the UK, bought a stake in Cath Kidston in 2010 and helped it expand in Asia, where it currently has a large presence in Japan and a smaller footprint in Korea, Thailand and Hong Kong.

All parties declined to comment.

The talks come amid a buoyant time for Asian takeovers of British high street names.

House of Fraser formally announced it had been taken over by a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate San Power on Saturday in a deal valuing the company at £480m.

San Power, which through its subsidiary Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store Co has bought 89 per cent of House of Fraser, is now plotting a big expansion in its native China, with plans for around 20 new stores.

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