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Screw it, Just Do it

Mar 6, 2019

Welcome to Episode #113 of Screwitjustdoit.

On today's show I bring you a 'live' event when I hosted the recently resigned billionaire founder of Ted Baker, Ray Kelvin cbe.

On Monday, March 4th Ray resigned, bringing the curtain down on one of the most remarkable careers in British fashion retailing during the last three decades.

Sky's Ian King said that Ray's business achievements should be noted as a cloud hangs over his departure.

He says that "many successful retailers are good traders, like Sir Philip Green, who are adept at knowing the right price at which to buy and sell fabrics and garments.

Others, like Peter Simon, the founder of Monsoon and Accessorize, are good at knowing what designs will sell well and what will not."

He adds "It is very rare for one individual to have the complete package - but Raymond Stuart Kelvin did. It was a talent that helped him build an empire worth nearly £1.5bn when the shares peaked last summer."


I've hosted Ray twice at 'live' Screwitjustdoit events at a sold out in Bournemouth, Ray's first brand new co-working space.

We started with a question direct from Richard Branson on Necker Island and continued for over two hours. I've therefore divided the show into two parts. 

In Part 1 Ray tells us how he still works every Saturday in a Ted Baker store, and still doesn't even own a computer.

The self-titled "boy done good" goes on to share insights including how he built Ted Baker without any formal advertising based on "common sense", and his four 'P's': People, product, passion and profit.

Part 2 will be released 48 hours later, this coming Friday on March 8th.

You don't want to miss either of these. Whilst the sound quality is not up to the usual standard, this was recorded 'live' and Ray liked to keep moving amongst the audience. I think it's worth it to hear the Ted Baker story - from 'the man closet to Ted'.

Ray's quirks included refusing to have a photograph taken of his entire face (see the image of me with him on our Screwitjustdoit Facebook page) and requiring journalists who were late to meetings with him to do press-ups as a punishment.

Profiles of Ray would also regularly mention that he greeted visitors - even those he had not met previously - with a hug.

It was explained Ray had given up handshakes more than 20 years earlier due to his arthritis. It was seen by those who knew Ray - his suppliers, shareholders, City analysts and journalists - as no more than harmless eccentricity.

It was just another quirk of a founder who was on first-name terms with all of his employees, ate with them in the staff canteen and who, when he was not toiling in head office, could often still be found working in his own shops. Hugs were described as part of the company's culture.

But the definition of what is or is not acceptable behaviour in the workplace changed with the rise of the #MeToo movement and suddenly, late last year, Ray found himself being accused by a number of his employees of giving them unwanted hugs.

Ray, who has denied all allegations of misconduct, stepped down from day-to-day running of the business in December and Herbert Smith Freehills, a City law firm, was brought in by the board to investigate the allegations.

It has not yet reported its findings and is not expected to until the end of the month at the earliest.

Two months into the independent investigation into Ray's behaviour, Ted's board, led by executive chairman David Bernstein, has decided he must stand down, suggesting the allegations against Ray make it untenable for him to stay as a director of the company."

The big concern for shareholders is whether the company can continue to enjoy the remarkable success it has without its founder at the helm.... 

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