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Editor's Comment: Ted Baker innovates to defy a challenging market

Amid recent disappointing – although not unexpected – trading updates from several retailers and brands, Ted Baker has once again gone against the grain.

In the 28 weeks to 13 August, Ted Baker increased sales across all channels and territories. A winner of multiple Drapers awards, Ted Baker has a clear multichannel strategy and a distinctive brand. If you’ve been to any wedding this summer, you will probably have noticed guests in Ted Baker dresses – and immediately recognised the brand’s handwriting. Although it began as a menswear brand, Ted Baker has carved out its place in the womenswear market, which now makes up 57.4% of its proposition.

Alongside this, Ted Baker’s variety of sales channels across retail, wholesale and licensing allow it to adapt to changing market conditions. While others in the industry struggle to find the balance between wholesale and retail, Ted Baker has gained the trust of the market and its wholesale model remains strong.

As with everything Ted Baker does, the film is on brand, relates to its customer and puts product at the forefront

At a very entertaining lunch, I attended recently to celebrate the launch of Ted Baker’s shoppable short film, the brand’s eccentric founder, Ray Kelvin, said of its wholesale partners: “We treat them like family – the stock is in the right place, at the right time.”

Discounting strategies, which have again been a talking point for many brands throughout this year, can also have an effect on wholesale relationships. Kelvin insisted this week that Ted Baker will not run a full Sale in the UK before Christmas, although there may be some activity around Black Friday in late November, because of the brand’s strong US presence.

Kelvin freely admits he is sometimes worried about the future of stores in a multichannel world. He has looked to innovation to make Ted Baker stand out in the competitive digital sector. The shoppable short film, which was produced by Guy Ritchie, also makes use of voice search via phrases displayed in Ted Baker store windows.

As with everything Ted Baker does, the film is on brand, relates to its customer and puts product at the forefront. It is a fun way of encouraging shoppers to shop on- and offline. It will be interesting to see how this develops when the next instalment launches at Christmas.

There are many lessons retailers can learn from Ted Baker, but ultimately it is about understanding who you are as a brand and ensuring that your handwriting is clear throughout all channels. Alongside this, it is knowing your product and, above all, your customer. Kelvin’s final thoughts on the shoppable film sum up his approach to the business: “It’s not just a campaign. It’s a way of life.”



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