Ted Baker rises above the chaos on high street

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TED Baker, the carefully cultivated fashion brand for “dapper gents and sophisticated ladies”, saw retail sales rocket by 20.9 per cent over the all-important festive trading period.

The upmarket group also reported “very strong” online performance, indicating a rise of around 50 per cent on the previous year.

“We have delivered to plan across the UK,” said Raymond Kelvin CBE, the 56-year-old founder and chief executive.

He added: “The group has delivered a good result over the Christmas period.

“We were pleased by the performance in markets where the brand is established and continue to build brand awareness in our newer markets, where we are investing for the longer term.

“We remain focused on the continued development of the brand globally with further store openings planned in Shanghai, China in the first half of 2013.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank the entire team at Ted Baker for their continued hard work and commitment over this successful period.”

Ted Baker has stand-alone stores in the Victoria Quarter and Meadhowhall, an outlet in York and stores within House of Fraser in Leeds, Huddersfield and Meadowhall.

The group would not break out regional performance, but a spokesman said it was fairly consistent throughout the UK.

Seasonal bestsellers included small leather goods and accessories in womenswear and in menswear, a suite range called Phormal.

In a trading update for the eight weeks from November 11 to January 5, the group said gross margins were in line with expectations. It expects to end the season with a clean stock position.

As in previous years, the label resisted big promotional activity in the run-up to Christmas, waiting for the post-Christmas sales to offer deep discounts.

Average space rose by 13.9 per cent over the period, it added.

Ted Baker said: “The UK and Europe performed strongly in a competitive trading environment and our e-commerce business continues to perform very well.

“In the US, we continue to make good progress and build brand awareness.

“In Asia, where we are in the early stages of investing in new markets for the longer term development of the brand, we have been encouraged by the initial response to the brand and collections. We have been pleased by the new stores opened during the period, which included our first store in Toronto, Canada and a store in Heathrow Terminal 3.

“The board anticipates that profit before taxation for the year ending January 26, 2013 will be in line with expectations.”

The FTSE-250 business, which had revenues of £215m last year, is expected to deliver a pre-tax profit of £31.5m.

Analysts at Panmure Gordon said they “continue to marvel at the evolution of the Ted Baker brand from a position just hovering above the high street to one of clear blue water between it and the high street”.

Analysts at N1 Singer highlighted the group’s strong trading in the UK despite volatile and variable conditions and its progress in penetrating large global markets “with its differentiated and quirky proposition”.

Analysts at Espirito Santo Investment Bank said Ted Baker “remains one of the strongest growth stories in our coverage”.

Mr Kelvin does not grant many interviews, preferring instead to promote the cult of his brand. In his company biography, he is described as the “closest man to Ted”.

The Londoner conceived the brand in 1987 “whilst fishing” and launched the business as a shirt specialist in Glasgow a year later, following with openings in Manchester, Nottingham, Soho and Leeds in 1993. It floated in 1997.

It has since developed into a global brand, which distributes through its own and licensed retail outlets, department stores and selected independents in Europe, United States, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia, with more than 275 stores and concessions.

Last year’s report and accounts are presented as an old-style British passport bearing the text: “The most stylist Ted Baker Esq hereby offers dapper gents and sophisticated ladies the opportunity to learn about this man of the world’s global expansion and sartorial success story in the name of all that is fashionable (and without let or hindrance – whatever that means).”

Shares closed up 7p at 1169p giving it a market capitalisation of £497.81m.