- ell brown, Flickr
In the generally depressed world of UK retail, success stories tend to be conspicuous. Analysts have been impressed by the performance of fashion store and label Ted Baker, which goes from strength to strength. Pitched midway between high street and designer label exclusivity, Ted Baker garments seem to have discovered the perfect market niche.
It has thrived in the recession, pushing sales for 2013 up by 31 percent in the five months up to June. Stock price is soaring and there is a feelgood factor clinging to the brand. The secret seems to be making the Ted Baker label accessible while retaining its cachet. It is far from cheap, with a basic dress retailing for £100, but the emphasis is on quality.
Ted Baker started off as a shirt company in Glasgow, founded by entrepreneur Ray Kelvin. Unlike many garment industry millionaires, Kelvin is reticent, low-profile and modest. He doesn't like to talk about his success, perhaps worried that once he starts to analyse it, the magic may end.
"I didn't want to use my real name," he told Vogue, explaining the Ted Baker creation. "I thought I'd be a failure. I could have gone bankrupt, then my name would have always been associated with a failed company. I'm camera-shy too, that sort of thing isn't what I'm about. Also, I'm ugly – I don't want to see my picture everywhere. I'm funny though, which helps."
A sly wit permeates the Ted Baker brand and advertising. If shirts remain a mainstay, the brand has expanded carefully into womenswear, shoes, children's clothes and accessories. For those who like to buy into a brand wholesale, there are even Ted Baker fragrances, bedding, mobile phones and specs. Men in Ted Baker shirts can even get their hair cut in a traditional Ted Baker barber's shop.
There are 181 British shops offering some of the most coveted jobs in UK retail and the brand is also bringing quirky British style to the globe, six new openings last year increasing its empire to 110 shops overseas.