Shaper: Ray Kelvin

Show aired on 19th May 2018

Transcript

Elliot Moss
That was Jamie Cullen with What A Difference A Day Makes. Good morning this is Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss here on Jazz FM. Thank you so much for joining. Jazz Shapers is the place where you get to hear the very best of the people shaping the world of jazz, blues and soul and right alongside them we bring in someone in who is shaping the world of business. We call them Business Shapers. I am super pleased to say that my Business Shaper today is none other than the Founder and CEO at Ted Baker, it is the inimitable Ray Kelvin. You will be hearing lots from my guest today and I can’t predict exactly what it will be but that’s part of the fun so stay with me right here on Jazz FM. In addition to hearing from Ray you will also be hearing our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya some words of advice for your business and then on top of all of that we’ve got some brilliant music from the shapers of jazz, blues and soul including Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock and this from Diana Krall.

That was Diana Krall with S’ Wonderful. Ray Kelvin is my Business Shaper today and I genuinely am (a) very pleased he is here and (b) do not know what the next hour is going to be like. Ray, hello.

Ray Kelvin
Hello, how are you?

Elliot Moss
I am good, how are you?

Ray Kelvin
Panicking.

Elliot Moss
Why are you panicking?

Ray Kelvin
Because since I knew I was going to do this show…

Elliot Moss
Yeah.

Ray Kelvin
…I’ve been trying to choose a couple of tracks and I am down to six hundred and forty three tracks to choose from and it’s been keeping me up all night.

Elliot Moss
Well the good news is that we decided you can have a couple rather than one because the usual rules are, and you don’t look like a guy who likes rules, the usual rules are you only get one. The bad news is I haven’t got space for six hundred and forty three.

Ray Kelvin
That’s a shame. But I do like rules.

Elliot Moss
What kind of rules do you like?

Ray Kelvin
Well I run a, you know, public company so one would think I don’t like rules but you know if you are going to build a business and it’s going to be sustainable you’ve got to have a platform so you’ve got to have rules and you’ve got to run things properly so I don’t mind rules.

Elliot Moss
Now you are leading a FTSE 250 company.

Ray Kelvin
Yeah, maybe I don’t know about this week.

Elliot Moss
Just about, well who knows?

Ray Kelvin
Yeah, in and out, in and out as they say.

Elliot Moss
Yeah. Over half a billion pounds of turnover.

Ray Kelvin
Oh no a bit more now.

Elliot Moss
What are you up to now?

Ray Kelvin
I don’t know but it’s more than that.

Elliot Moss
A lot. And people wise, how many people roughly are you now?

Ray Kelvin
About six thousand. Worldwide.

Elliot Moss
In how many countries?

Ray Kelvin
Fifty five. It’s a lot isn’t it?

Elliot Moss
And how many different…

Ray Kelvin
And I am worrying about what song to choose.

Elliot Moss
Is that because you are really good at focussing on what’s in front of you at that moment?

Ray Kelvin
No. I don’t know what I am really good at. I think I am just pretty practical. One would think that business is all about making big decisions and actually it probably isn’t, it’s about making lots of small decisions which is incredibly tiring and you’ve got to have a thirst and an energy to be able to do that so as much as the business has this quirk in the way it looks and the way it feels, actually it is a pretty sensible place. Except we hug all day long and people go out with one another and it’s all allowed.

Elliot Moss
And for the record I have been hugged today.

Ray Kelvin
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
By Ray and not just me.

Ray Kelvin
No I hug…

Elliot Moss
Pretty much everyone here at Jazz FM has been hugged.

Ray Kelvin
We hug everybody. We call it a hug culture. If you were to come to the ugly brown building you would see there is a hug zone round my desk and if people want to just have a hug they come and have a hug.

Elliot Moss
You said about I think truthfully and insightfully, you know, it seems like this is a crazy place and you sell great clothes around the world and there’s actually underpinning is pretty serious. Is that because you are like that? Is there a bit of both in you?

Ray Kelvin
Sure. I like to have a lot of fun. I think you spend too many hours in business not for it to be fun and as soon as we got over the line, it took us about seven years to make a profit and as soon as we started to do well and then very well, I tried to make and I said to myself ‘I am going to try and make this the most fun place you could ever work’ so that’s what we try and do. So we have massage in the office all day long, you have your nails done, you have a fantastic restaurant and I try and make it home to home so it’s not you are going to business but it’s an extended home. And it’s one big family and everybody is hugging and going out and have a lot of… they call me the Chief Fluffer. When everybody goes out and has a good time and boy meets girl, girl meets boy. I met my wife in the office. She, she chased me for about three years.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for much more from Ray Kelvin my Chief Fluffer and Chief Executive and Founder at Ted Baker. Time for some more music before we go back to Ray and it’s going to be fast because I want to come back to him. Duke Ellington with In A Sentimental Mood.

Duke Ellington with In A Sentimental Mood. I am talking to Ray Kelvin or rather he is talking to me actually. He is the Founder and CEO of Ted Baker and we were talking about attitude and also I think this juxtaposition between the serious and the fun. Let’s go back a little bit in time. You’ve always worked in the fashion world right?

Ray Kelvin
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
How did it start and how did you then end up doing your own thing so quickly?

Ray Kelvin
I have always been interested in I suppose trading, so buying and selling. I’ve always been interested in fashion and design. I was at school and I couldn’t do maths particularly well, in fact the only time I could do maths is when you put a pound sign in front and when I put a pound sign in front suddenly I could understand maths and then I went on and did a Business Degree, I think only about three percent of the populous did a Degree when… you know I am sixty two so I am talking in late… mid 70s. Not many people went to University. My mother and father thought I was stark raving crazy ‘what do you want to go and be educated for, you’re not that type anyway and you are just going to be a beatnik so go off and get a job’. So I went to University for eight months because my good friends went to University and I started to lose too much money at cards so I had to leave and I just worked the markets and with you know, good personality which I think is very important, a strong personality is important in business, I met people and pushed myself in and worked, worked my way in to situations and started a private label ladies wear fashion business. Sold that and wanted to develop a brand and Ted Baker was developed in ’88. It was extremely hard in the early days but you know, we’ve come through and I still see it as a small business even though now it is quite a big business and every day I go into work, collywobbles in the stomach thinking I am going to go bust and it keeps me on my toes.

Elliot Moss
Genuinely is that, you really do…

Ray Kelvin
Sure.

Elliot Moss
…you are nervous?

Ray Kelvin
I am nervous, much more nervous in my office than I am right here now. I don’t know… because it’s got so large and it wasn’t intended to be such a big business that makes you feel slightly insecure doesn’t it? You don’t quite know, I’ve never seen a post, I don’t know who the bank manager is, I don’t know where the mon… you know b,b, b. What’s going… I am just the chap who sits in the corner. In fact when my kids, Ben or Josh come into the office, they are about 15/16, they would look around this beautiful building and say ‘dad who really did this?’ and they look at some fella in the corner who looks bright and academic and they go ‘it was him wasn’t it?’ and I say ‘yes it was him, I had nothing to do with it’ because they hear me passing wind, breaking wind and snoring on the couch and ‘it couldn’t have been you dad’.

Elliot Moss
But Ray do you think that yourself?

Ray Kelvin
Yeah a bit.

Elliot Moss
Why after all these years, I mean I would have got that in the early days you would have gone… you said to me earlier ‘I got lucky’. I am sorry I am going to push back on that, there ain’t no luck in this anymore. I not saying that every day you aren’t lucky but there is something else going on here so surely that insecurity over the years has been reduced a little bit?

Ray Kelvin
Yeah not really, not really. I tell you what I think if I may say, a strength and a strength to have in business, I love promoting other people. I love watching other people and watching them with their talent. So I like to champion people and I spend a lot of time finding people from University, championing them, helping them and seeing talent in others. So it’s not an I business, it’s not about one person doing it. If somebody in the company is doing some great stuff I just love them to bits and just want to promote them and develop them and tell everybody how good they are and then that creates an energy throughout the company that people feel that they have the chance to make the difference. It’s not about one person, it’s not about one person getting particularly wealthy. Wealthy doesn’t come into it. It’s all about going into a business and doing things better today than yesterday. So it’s not thinking about making more money, it’s about how can we make it better? What’s the better thing to do? Is that the better button? Is that the better zip? Is that the better practice? Is it better to do this or is it better to do that? What’s the best thing for the business? People really get into that because then they can see they can make a difference. I want everybody in this organisation to feel they can add value and then you’ve got everybody swimming in the right direction and you know what, it becomes powerful.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me to find out much more and I hope you are taking notes because this is a bit of a Master Class in how to run a business with humility and focussing on other people rather than yourself. Much more from Ray coming up in a few minutes.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers here on Jazz FM and if you’ve missed any of the previous three hundred plus programmes, go into iTunes put in the words ‘Jazz’ and ‘Shapers’ or on your next trip on British Airways, look us up and you will find Jazz Shapers in there as well. Right now though I’ve got Ray Kelvin. He is the Founder and CEO and also Chief Fluffer at Ted Baker and of Ted Baker. You were talking before about wanting to promote other people and I don’t just mean within the business, like you said, you love talent. Were you… how did that message of its about other people come to you? Where was it from? Was that from being a young kid, were you given lots of love and nurturing? And did it start there?

Ray Kelvin
Not… I don’t think it came from…

Elliot Moss
Because not everyone is like that Ray.

Ray Kelvin
Well maybe not.

Elliot Moss
Most people aren’t.

Ray Kelvin
I don’t, I don’t think it came from the home particularly. I think it came from insecurity in knowing that there were probably a lot of things I couldn’t do well and I knew that I would struggle when I wanted to bring other people around me to help me and by helping me they were helping themselves and I just enjoy it. I can’t think it’s a deep psychological you know, something about my past or the way I have been brought up. I just really like seeing and admire other people’s talents and it doesn’t have to be me that scores the goals. I want to be in the winning team but I don’t have to score the goals. If I can create a good assist or do something else to help people then its good you know, and they help me as well. I mean it works both ways you know, I won’t say, you know, I can add up and I am actually my real passion is fabric so I am very good with, working with fabrics and cloths and print and design so you know, in that sense I am a talent but if you ask me to sketch and draw, you know what? I am pretty crap. But I can see it which is odd so I’ve got a vision, I can see design, I can see proportions, I can see how it’s going to look and how it’s going to work but I can’t, I can’t sew and make a dress. I know the process. I’ve been in the business forty five years in fashion but I’ve got some very talented people around me that can do that.

Elliot Moss
What happens when…

Ray Kelvin
And I think that’s the reason why the business got big. If it’s an I business it’s not going to become a team because as we know, there is no I in team so.

Elliot Moss
But the flip side of that is that I imagine and we talked about the hugs and stuff. What happens when someone isn’t delivering? What happens when the standards aren’t being met? What happens when Ray is actually going ‘excuse me this isn’t good enough’?

Ray Kelvin
Sure no obviously I am tough with it but there is no shouting and screaming in the office. It’s, it’s a proper place to work. If people aren’t performing they get helped and if they are not doing a good job because they are just not up to it, that’s explained and they leave. It’s B for Business not P for Personal. We have to be doing the best things for the business but we try and have as much fun as we possibly can and that brings personality out in people and gives them a chance so do you know what, it’s just common sense really. You can read books about it and read all about these famous people that do this, that and the other you know, I just think it’s just pure common sense.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more from my Business Shaper, that’s Ray Kelvin, Founder of Ted Baker. Time for some more music, Herbie Hancock with Watermelon Man.

That was Herbie Hancock with Watermelon Man. I am with Ray Kelvin, we are talking about common sense and business. I think it comes easily to you, I don’t know if it came easily to everyone then everyone would be doing it and they are not. You said something earlier about I wanted to create a brand and everything I read about you says ‘I haven’t got stores, I’ve got a brand’. That, whenever you talked about it back in the ‘80s was kind of an unusual thing I think for someone in your world to say. Where did that thinking come from?

Ray Kelvin
Being small minded. That might sound strange. I worked at my grandpa’s shop and my uncle’s shop in Enfield and the family were the only people that could go to the till so if you were family then you could touch money and if you weren’t family you couldn’t and I thought to myself ‘if I have a hundred shops, whose going to go to the till?’ So it was a matter of control and keeping it tight plus the fact if you have lots of shops it’s very difficult to love them all so I wanted people to discover it. I wanted people to find it, it’s now a global brand and actually in this country today we have only twenty conventional leases. So we’ve got airports, we’ve got shopping shops but we’ve only got twenty leases thank goodness because if you had a lot of leases in today’s market then you would be absolutely on the floor so we don’t have many leases. But it’s all been brought out of I wanted the product to have a lot of personality so it would sit in other people’s stores so you could go into somebody else’s stores whether it be Selfridges, Harrods, Nordstrom’s and the Ted Baker product would sit in another environment. If you think about retailers and retailer’s products, they don’t really sit in other people’s environments. They don’t sit off the shelf and I wanted it to have a wholesale business and we’ve also got a very strong licensing business so we make watches, we make aftershaves…

Elliot Moss
Perfume.

Ray Kelvin
Perfume. We do you know…

Elliot Moss
All that.

Ray Kelvin
….all brand extensions. We create brand extensions. We help create with our partner but they are the specialists in their field so we allow them to service those markets. I mean for example, our eyewear business is an anomaly, it’s absolutely vast. I think we do about, worldwide, about seventy million dollars in eyewear at retail value and I don’t really know why. You know we out sell most specialist frame businesses, spectacle businesses.

Elliot Moss
But you must have a hunch because its working?

Ray Kelvin
Yeah probably…

Elliot Moss
What’s your hunch?

Ray Kelvin
…because it’s a great product, a great price but I actually think it’s the chemistry between ourselves and the partner. I think the partner’s particularly good and it’s all about you know, people. You’ve heard all these stupid clichés, but people, product, passion and profit. If you start with the people and you get the people right you’ve got a chance. But I think that works but it’s being able to put the brand, known as a brand and cover it over the right type of products so you can then extend the business. It doesn’t mean we are going to brand slap and stick our name on everything, you know, a microphone, a computer, a file or anything, what else am I looking at on your wonderful desk. We wouldn’t do that. It has to add value to the brand and then we might well develop that.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for my final chat with Ray plus we will be playing a track from Frank Sinatra, that’s in just a moment.

That was Summer Wind from Frank Sinatra. I’ve had the pleasure of Ray Kelvin’s company, that’s the word I am looking for Ray, that’s the word.

Ray Kelvin
Well played.

Elliot Moss
Thank you, I was thinking ‘what is the word?’ – that’s the word. All this stuff that’s going on and your humility is extraordinary/insecurity whatever you want to call it and you are just going ‘yeah, yeah, whatever, it’s just what I do’. Where does it go? Does it just keep on getting bigger? Does it…

Ray Kelvin
Oh I don’t know.

Elliot Moss
…I mean here you are now, you said you are sixty two, you’ve been running this business for a long time, you’ve obviously assembled great people, you’ve obviously got a really special culture because in this environment where so many retailers and I know you don’t call yourself a retailer but so many businesses like yours are suffering, you are not suffering?

Ray Kelvin
No, we’ve got this strong culture, we’ve got some great people that, I mean they are going to have to carry me out in a box but…

Elliot Moss
Are they though really? Is that the thing? Do you just love what you do?

Ray Kelvin
Yeah it’s not work you know, stress is not stress if you are passionate about something. If you are not passionate about something and it’s hard work then it becomes stressful.

Elliot Moss
But obviously the money aside there is probably enough money for a fair few lifetimes and it is not even a question. If you weren’t working, what would you be doing?

Ray Kelvin
Working. Fishing.

Elliot Moss
I’ve heard about your love of fishing. How often do you go fishing?

Ray Kelvin
Do you know what, not much. I go fishing on the weekend. Fishing is only good when you can bunk off. If you can go fishing every day it’s not fishing is it? It’s catching.

Elliot Moss
So you still like bunking off?

Ray Kelvin
If you bunk off…

Elliot Moss
Who are you bunking off from though you are the boss?

Ray Kelvin
Yeah I am always bunking off. Listen… well I am not really bunking off, I’m always there. In fact though did you know I only work five minutes a day?

Elliot Moss
How do you manage that?

Ray Kelvin
Well yeah. The trouble is I never know when that five minutes is going to be so I am always there. I… if the weather’s good, if the weather’s good and suddenly it’s not diarised and it’s corr and Gemma my PA is sitting really attractively in the corner over there, says to me ‘Ray when are you go fishing?’ and I look at her and I go ‘you know what, I am going to go fishing’ and suddenly I sneak out and no one knows.

Elliot Moss
That you like.

Ray Kelvin
Do you know what…

Elliot Moss
So there is still the naughty boy in you?

Ray Kelvin
I am so naughty I can’t tell you. I am really naughty and I am on my best behaviour today.

Elliot Moss
You are doing really well.

Ray Kelvin
I am really, really naughty and I like to have a lot of fun but we do have a new condom coming out to give away with our World Cup.

Elliot Moss
Okay. That’s in the summer?

Ray Kelvin
And it says, yeah it says, yeah for the summer, for the summer World Cup. You know we give out condoms?

Elliot Moss
Yeah.

Ray Kelvin
And it says ‘Ted says keep a clean sheet this World Cup’.

Elliot Moss
And you are not joking are you?

Ray Kelvin
No. No. No.

Elliot Moss
You are not joking, I didn’t think you were. But let me ask you this, in the naughtiness, as you started with there are underpinning this fun business there is a lot of substance, there’s a lot of rules.

Ray Kelvin
Of course yeah.

Elliot Moss
What about your personal day. Do you… are you a list guy?

Ray Kelvin
List?

Elliot Moss
List as in how do you manage the things that really need to be done?

Ray Kelvin
I thought you said pissed. I, no I don’t know, I don’t know what’s happening. I’ve got maybe a few appointments, not many. I never get, the phone never rings. You told me to turn my phone off when I came in – it never rings.

Elliot Moss
Really?

Ray Kelvin
No. No I never get phone calls.

Elliot Moss
Why’s that?

Ray Kelvin
I don’t know. Because I run my business with people and there are other people that take the calls. You want to speak to someone in property, you speak to the property chap, not me.

Elliot Moss
Finance you speak to the finance chap. But…

Ray Kelvin
I get my kids phoning me up, which is a delight. I get my wife phoning me, not much, text but I don’t get many calls because I delegate my business through really great people.

Elliot Moss
So during the day, just a quick snapshot, average day, how many different appointments? Have you got people that you’re…

Ray Kelvin
No I don’t know, four or five chats, meetings and things.

Elliot Moss
Four or five meetings?

Ray Kelvin
Yeah but it’s about creating a great, a great spirit and, and just instilling an energy in other people and talking about what we are doing about this, what we are doing about that. It’s not programmed you know. It’s not… sorry the rest of the business is. My job is to be the extra, the difference. My job is to come in and not do their job and just push the strategy that bit forward. There is no point in me trying to replicate people that are doing a great job. My job is to drive the business forward and to be the extra.

Elliot Moss
Have you ever felt that you are not adding the value that you want to add and be that extra? Have you ever gone ‘hold on a minute, that wasn’t a good day’?

Ray Kelvin
No. To be honest with you, no I don’t and I think about my remuneration and how much I earn and I think about that every day, did I earn money for the business today? Did I, did I earn my fee? Did I charge myself out at the right rate? Did I add value to everybody in the business? How did we do today? You know and then I go round the shops and check the tills and if we did then…

Elliot Moss
Do you still… is there still the effect…

Ray Kelvin
I work in the shop on Saturdays. If you come, listen guys…

Elliot Moss
Which one?

Ray Kelvin
Covent Garden I am there most Saturday’s after being to Ted Baker’s Grooming Room, I have a lovely shave, hair cut…

Elliot Moss
I’ve been a few times. Not recently. To shave.

Ray Kelvin
Are you should, it’s amazing they do a massage, it’s just a fantastic hour for you guys, Ted Baker Groom Rooms and then I go from there to Ted Baker Convent Garden or Regent Street and I work the shop. I talk to customers, I sell.

Elliot Moss
Last thing just before we go to your song choice and actually we’ve edited you down to one by mistake because we got carried away.

Ray Kelvin
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
When are you at your happiest? What is it? When is the little buzz?

Ray Kelvin
When I’ve got my family around me. So I’ve got lovely Ben whose twenty three, Josh, twenty one and little Eva whose five. When I’ve got them and the family around me with my wife and we are having a cool time then you know, then I feel complete. So… it’s you know, business, my business means a lot to me but nothing is stronger than the family.

Elliot Moss
It’s been a real pleasure talking to you.

Ray Kelvin
That should be a hook for my next song.

Elliot Moss
It is. It’s funny that you did that, you should be doing my job. Which you could probably do very easily.

Ray Kelvin
Well I probably could.

Elliot Moss
Don’t want say it, probably could. Not probably – there was no doubt. So tell me what is your song choice Ray and why have you chosen it?

Ray Kelvin
It’s the Family Affair, it’s the Family Affair by Sly…

Elliot Moss
And the Family Stone.

Ray Kelvin
Correct.

Elliot Moss
Because?

Ray Kelvin
It’s about the family at Ted Baker and it’s about the family in my home and I think songs for me is all about something that happened in my life in the past and it just brings back a feeling, it doesn’t have to be specific, but it was probably me chasing some beautiful girl. I was a tennis player as a kid, I don’t know if you know that and I used to go to play tennis all over the country and I always remember going to Bournemouth playing in the Hants Open and I chased this young girl to this song.

Elliot Moss
Well here it is just for you and I hope it brings back all those happy memories. Thank you Ray it’s been brilliant.

Ray Kelvin
Cheers, thank you.

Elliot Moss
That was Sly and the Family Stone with Family Affair, the song choice of my Business Shaper today, my brilliant Business Shaper today, Ray Kelvin. He talked about well what I do is just common sense. Fantastically humble. He talked about supporting talent and promoting talent and the buzz that he gets out of putting people forward in his business and also young people through Universities and the like. And he talked about always wanting to deliver extra and be the extra in the business. A real masterclass in what it takes to set up a business and to take it public and to be running it successfully in really difficult times. Absolutely unbelievable. Do join me again, same time, same place for hopefully another fabulously inspiring edition of Jazz Shapers here on Jazz FM.

Ray Kelvin

Ray Kelvin grew up in Cockfosters, which his late mother taught him to pronounce Co’fosters, to sound “posher”. He attended Middlesex Polytechnic, studying Business Studies, but later dropped out of his course to work. His experience in fashion and retail began when he worked in the family shop in Edmonton, with the influence of his father, who owned a blouse factory in Tottenham. Ray realised he wanted to build a fashion business that “really meant something” and he created PC Clothing Limited, which was later sold. Together with Finance Director Lindsay Page, Ray founded and became CEO of Ted Baker, defined as a “global lifestyle brand”. Ted Baker was established firstly as a shirt specialist in Glasgow, but later Ray ensured they expanded by creating a collection that has now extended to: menswear; womenswear; accessories; bedding; children’s wear; eyewear; footwear; luggage and watches. Now 30 years old, Ted Baker has 532 stores and concessions in 55 different countries worldwide. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FSE 250 Index.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

“One would probably think business is about making big decisions. It’s not. It’s about making lots of very small, careful, decisions.”

“We hug all day long. We call it hug culture. There’s a hug zone.”

“I like to have a lot of fun. You spent too many hours in business, so make it fun. I decided to try and make it the most fun place you could ever work. I try to make it home to home.”

“I’ve always been interested in trading. I’ve always been interested in fashion & design. The only time I could do maths is when a £ was in front.”

“I’ve got vision and I can design, but I can’t sew or make a dress. This is why the business got business, there’s no ‘I’ in this business – it’s always been a team.”

“Branding was always more important. If you think about retailers, their products don’t usually sit on other people’s shelves. Whatever product we develop has to add value to the brand.”

“It’s not work to me. Stress is not stress if you are passionate about something.”