The Real Mr. Baker

By Simran Bharti

Fame, celebrity and the limelight are accessories to any successful endeavour, in particular in high profile industries such as the world of fashion. But this CEO – the founder, designer and head of one of the most prestigious and luxurious brands known its originality – prefers to stay in the background. Because, unlike other popular businessmen, Ray Kelvin believes that celebrity life and the spotlight were not meant for businessmen. “It turns them off”, he says.

Founder and CEO of Ted Baker, Kelvin opened his first store in Glasgow about 26 years ago. Taking it from a shirt stall to where the brand is now, Kelvin today owns more than 340 stores and concessions around the world. Kelvin is the one responsible entirely for the growth and achievements of British brand Ted Baker, which blends classic with contemporary, but he is not your average CEO.

Here are a few things that set Ray Kelvin apart:

Ray Kelvin greets everyone with a hug and believes communication, other than that done over emails, is very important:

Kelvin is down to earth and believes that a personal touch, a warm hug, is the best way to greet people when you meet them. From his receptionist to his investors and even the journalists who come to interview Kelvin, he welcomes everyone with a bear hug. A quality very rare to find in people nowadays!

Passionate about fashion but not the spotlight

If you are reading this article and you hadn’t heard of this guy before, or seen his pictures on the internet often, that is probably because that is what Ray Kelvin aimed for. “Kelvin’s spent the best part of 25 years eschewing personal publicity, to the point that he has always studiously avoided being photographed in full profile (the face half hidden or back to the camera are now something of a quirky Kelvin motif in all Ted Baker pictures),” writes Gareth Wyn Davies in his article on this man behind the success of Ted Baker.

Ray aims for success with a different perspective

Most the retailers follow fashion. However, Ted Baker creates fashion for people to follow. Kelvin doesn’t aim for success with a limited perspective. He sees opportunities and takes them. In an interview conducted by Thomas Hobbs for the Marketing Week, Kelvin explains that his idea of success via the example of supermarket chain Tesco’s failure in America. “They were selling oranges, apples and pears. You can already buy those things anywhere. If you want to buy a Ted Baker, you have to buy it from Ted Baker – it’s about supply and demand. So long as we keep ourselves original, we will win”.

Since its 1997 stock market debut, Ted Baker’s profits have increased by a steady 13 per cent. Among the several things to learn from Ray Kelvin, the most important would be ‘know why you started what you started’. In an interview to Campaign, Kelvin said, “We always say it’s about doing better than we did the day before.”

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