July 6, 2015 / 8:12 PM / 2 years ago

Canada's Kit and Ace opens first overseas shop, no IPO plans

TORONTO (Reuters) - Kit and Ace, a Canadian retail start-up backed by the billionaire family behind Lululemon Athletica Inc (LULU.O), has opened its first overseas location, but has no plans to take the business public, its co-founder said on Monday.

A sign hangs outside the Kit and Ace flagship store in Vancouver, British Columbia October 17, 2014. REUTERS/Ben Nelms

The casual wear retailer, whose core product is a cashmere blend fabric that was originally offered to Lululemon, just opened its first British store in the trendy Shoreditch district in London, J.J. Wilson said in an interview.

“Right now our focus is to keep it private and to build the business,” said Wilson, the son of Lululemon founder Chip Wilson. “We have no plans to do (an initial public offering) at the moment or for the foreseeable future.”

Kit and Ace has grown from four staffers to 19 stores with well over 200 employees in Canada, the United States, and now Britain in just over a year. J.J. Wilson said the company was pushing ahead with plans for stores in Australia and Japan.

“Depending on how successful we are in those countries and what the early part of 2016 looks like, there might be opportunities for us to look a little bit broader into different parts of Asia and Europe as well,” he said.

Kit and Ace’s expansion comes as Chip Wilson, who left Lululemon’s board earlier this year after disagreements with fellow directors, looks to potentially sell his remaining stake in the yogawear retailer for more than $1 billion.

While his father is not involved in Kit and Ace’s day-to-day operations, J.J. Wilson said the Lululemon founder has been providing expertise on the company’s growth and, particularly, its real estate strategy.

He said the chain is on track with its goal of having 50 shops open within the next six to eight months, but exact figures will depend on whether it can secure the desired real estate and staffing.

Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Paul Simao

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