Ted Baker store in Kerry Center, Shanghai

LONDON — Ted Baker has promoted its chief financial officer Rachel Osborne to the role of chief executive officer, the company confirmed Monday. Osborne is the third person in 12 months to hold the ceo role at the embattled company.

Osborne had been serving as acting ceo since December 2019, and her new appointment is effective immediately.

She joined Ted Baker last November from Debenhams, where she had worked as cfo. Previous roles include cfo at Domino’s Pizza Group plc, finance director of group enterprise at Vodafone and finance and strategy director at John Lewis. She has also held senior positions at Sodexo, Kingfisher and PepsiCo.

The company said that during her short tenure at Ted Baker, Osborne has been leading “a significant period of change and transformation,” including the development of key strategic priorities and the announcement of the sale and leaseback of the company’s headquarters at “a significant premium” to book value.

The board also confirmed that the search for a chairman has been progressing well. Sharon Baylay will continue to lead the board as acting chair in the interim.

The board also confirmed Monday that Jennifer Roebuck, currently a non-executive director on the board, will be taking up her previously announced leadership role of chief customer officer on April 1, and will therefore be stepping down from her non-executive position as of that date.

Baylay said that following “a thorough and competitive search process, the board is delighted that Rachel is being appointed as chief executive. She has already made a significant contribution to Ted Baker, working tirelessly in recent months to develop a transformation plan for the business, has brought hugely relevant retail and customer experience and is ideally positioned to lead Ted Baker’s turnaround in the future.”

Osborne said the time she has spent at Ted Baker “has quickly confirmed to me what a special business this is. We have challenges to face in the coming months, not least the significant uncertainty caused by COVID-19, but I am confident that we will succeed through the hard work of our colleagues and the strength of our brand.”

She said that over the past few months the company has put together “a clear plan to transform Ted Baker and ensure its long-term success. I look forward to leading the business through this critical period of change and seeing the benefits of our plan come to fruition.”

As reported, the problems at Ted Baker have been going from bad to worse. 

Earlier this year, the company revealed that an inventory accounting error on its balance sheet, reported in December, was far worse than originally feared.

Ted Baker said the value of inventory held on the group’s balance sheet as of Jan. 26, 2019, had been overstated by 58 million pounds, more than double the amount that was originally flagged.

The brand has undergone a merry-go-round of changes since the founder and shareholder of reference, Ray Kelvin, quit under a cloud in March, 2019 with employees accusing him of inappropriate behavior.

Kelvin has denied all of the accusations, and retains his 35 percent stake in the company.

Last year, the company issued a series of profit warnings and has witnessed a revolving door of management since Kelvin’s departure as chief executive officer.

Last month, David Bernstein stepped down as executive chairman with immediate effect, while company veteran Lindsay Page abruptly resigned as ceo.

In the 17 weeks to Dec. 7, group revenue decreased 3.1 percent to 203.8 million pounds on a reported basis and 3.9 percent at constant currency.

The company said it would be undertaking a cost review, an asset review, and will immediately suspend dividends in the wake of its third profit warning in December.

“The last 12 months has undoubtedly been the most challenging in our history,” the company said last month.

“We are taking the necessary immediate actions to address underperformance and improve efficiencies across the wider group and are confident that these will return the group to a stronger position and continue the brand’s long-term development.”

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