Men's Profile: Ted Baker

The quirky British brand has its eye on expansion in the U.S. market.

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Courtney Rotolo, footwear buyer at American Rag in California, said that although the store does not currently carry the brand, it has in the past. “The women’s is always on trend without being overkill, and the price point is great,” she said. “My hesitation with the men’s is that it may be a little too clean and polished for our market. But it’s something I will always look at. I hope I can write it for spring or in the coming seasons, when my dollars are more.”

At home, new initiatives have helped expand the business. In 2007, Baker introduced a high-end line for men called Ted Baker Pashion, featuring its own line of footwear. And last year, the company bowed Ted Baker & Friends, a concept store in London, where customers can also use the services of an on-site barber, shoeshiner, concierge and tailor.

While the company continues to seek growth opportunities, the shaky economy remains a challenge. Results for 2008 were mixed. License income for the year was up by more than 3 percent, and sales increased by almost 15 percent. But overall, the company’s earnings fell short by 11 percent. “It’s tough out there,” Kelvin said. “Just ask President Obama.”

As the company carefully expands in the Middle East and Asia, including opening a store in Dubai last year, it has faced some of the retail challenges of a faltering economy. Retail sales in the States decreased by almost 3 percent. “We are finding it tough in the U.S., there’s no doubt about it,” Rock said. “But the U.K. is very tough right now, too.” Still, U.K. retail sales were up by almost 16 percent for the year.

When it comes to upcoming initiatives, Kelvin is keeping quiet. But considering his empire already includes such things as mobile phones under the Ted Baker name, anything is possible. “It’s Ted’s 21st birthday this year,” Kelvin said, “so rest assured, we have a few things up our sleeves.”

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