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Upset after Cath Kidston pulls out of Street store

By Central Somerset Gazette  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

Designer Cath Kidston, whose floral and vintage themes have become a runaway success, with sales in the Far East also booming

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A top-brand designer of homeware, clothing and accessories has decided that Street is not exclusive enough for them.

Despite selling more than £116,000 worth of Cath Kidston products since Florries Gifts and Homeware opened its doors, the designer has written to the manager to say they will no longer supply them with their products.

A spokesperson for Cath Kidston said they were worried the brand was getting over-exposed, and as a result had decided to pull their products out of the Street store.

The manager of Florries, Chantelle Vinnell, said the decision has had a huge effect on the business and has raised questions about the way big businesses treat small, independent shops.

Around 40 per cent of the shop had been given over to Cath Kidston products.

“We had to jump through all sorts of hoops to be allowed to sell their stuff, so we feel we’ve been treated really badly,” she said.

“Particularly as they just will not tell us exactly would not tell us why they would no longer supply us.”

Staff at the shop had to send a dozens of letters and emails to the designer in order to be able to stock their produce, including photographs of the interior of the store to ensure that it met the company’s specifications.

“The last time I ordered from them, I bought over £12,000 worth of items from them, and I just don’t understand what has happened for them to decide that we are no longer good enough for them.”

Ms Vinnell admitted her business had suffered as a result of the company’s decision.

“Certain items, we just couldn’t keep up with the demand for,” she said.

“Things like bags and purses were going out almost as fast as they came in. Some weeks, we were selling £400-500 worth of their products to our customers, and obviously now we don’t have that money coming in.

“I’ve sent dozens of letters and emails trying to get to the bottom of this, but they will only reply saying that they are not at liberty to say why the decision was made.”

Initially, Ms Vinnell believed the supply had been withdrawn because the company had plans to open an outlet or shop of their own in Street.

“But we’ve since found out that it’s not the case,” she said.

“I am just completely bewildered by this – perhaps they don’t think that we are good enough to stock them.”

Cath Kidston’s flowery fashion has made it one of the success stories of the downturn. The brand, which is synonymous with 1930s-inspired floral and polka dot designs, turned over £69m in the financial year ending March 2011, compared with just £12m five years ago.

It currently has 47 UK and 30 overseas stores and the company’s products can be found in John Lewis and House of Fraser.

Hannah Macleod, a spokeswoman for Cath Kidston Limited, said: “Cath Kidston has been extending its network of stores in the UK, and currently has 60 owned stores. “While committed to a wholesale alongside retail business, we don’t want to overexpose the brand.

“We are cutting back on the absolute number of doors in the UK. There are no plans in place to open a Cath Kidston store in Somerset.”

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