Any mid market clothing retailer could benefit from having Ray Kelvin at the helm, which is to say it’s good news for Ted Baker that its founder will be back at board level, although not actually on it; (he was invited back by non-executive director and corporate financial adviser Colin La Fontaine Jackson, who now has a seat on the board and will represent Ray).
Ray is one of only a handful of senior figures in UK fashion to be admired for what he has put into the Ted Baker brand and he has ben central to its growth. It was clear, when he received man of the year from Retail Week back in 2014, that his team adored him and the later allegations of misconduct were all strenuously denied.
Ted needs Ray
Ted Baker needs Ray and the new board more than ever. In the new normal, where clothing sales have shifted dramatically on line, many middle market brands that are neither discount nor luxury are going to have to fight a lot harder to maintain relevance. One has only to see the number of brands that Mike Ashley at Frasers Group has acquired to see this. Once popular high street names are now nothing more than vaguely familiar labels to be stuck on one rung from the bottom cheap clothing. Is there any road back to greatness from that humiliation?
Marketplaces are a threat
These zombie brands are also going to show up more and more on the new department store model, or the on line marketplace as they are called, but with the reach that these marketplaces have and their ability to target very precisely through Facebook and Instagram, what price a business like Ted Baker’s that relies heavily on store sales?
Ray will have the answer I believe but even he risks thinking like an old-style retailer for whom stores were everything. His doctorate sadly is only honorary but don’t discount just how smart he is and just how hard the people around him are prepared to work.