There was an article in today’s The Telegraph that made my blood boil. It was all about the success of Cath Kidston and the various reasons why the firm was flourishing. The writer, one Cassandra Jardine, posited that recession-bit Brits were simply flashing their cash at spotty dishcloths and pretty pencil cases to cheer themselves up.
That may be partly true but the article completely disregards Cath Kidston’s own business nous and financial planning in the process. Worse, Jardine goes on to patronise the Cath Kidston founder: "For 15 years, the 50-year-old designer has been chugging along, flogging a modest number of her floral prints and laminated canvas bags. Her accounts department probably had enough spare time to put on spotty aprons and bake batches of brownies to pack up in their retro cake boxes."
That’s just the beginning. Check out this repulsive statement: "I felt a twinge of sadness for the now very rich Ms Kidston. She is making a fortune from kitting out the one thing she has never had herself – a child."
Such narrow-minded prejudice says far more about Ms Jardine than Cath Kidston. There aren’t enough asterisks in the whole world to contain the wrath of Real Business right now.
In actual fact, Cath Kidston is an extremely savvy businesswoman. She has opened ten new stores in the last year, taking advantage of cut-price high street premises to see profits almost double to £4.6m, up from £2.9m. Sales have also continued to grow, up from £19.2m last year to £31.3m this year.
This is no fluke. If there’s one thing that Kidston does with effortless flair, it’s adapt to economic and cultural conditions. Cath Kidston, in its current incarnation, only exists because of the various tweaks she made to her business model in order to survive in the early days.
Just because a female entrepreneur doesn’t publicise her achievements with great fanfare and bluster, does not mean that she succeeds purely by chance. Shame on you, Jardine, and congratulations Cath Kidston. May your profits double again and your detractors be silenced.