Ted Baker founder cuts stake by almost 40% in emergency funding bid

The Ted Baker founder, Ray Kelvin, has slashed his stake in the fashion retailer by nearly 40%, handing control of the company to an investor known as “the Rottweiler” as part of an emergency £105m fundraising to get the business through the coronavirus pandemic.

The retailer raised £95m through a share placing and on Tuesday will launch a £10m offer for subscription.

The refinancing has so far slashed Kelvin’s stake to 15.8% after he bought just £3.5m of new shares. Investment firm Toscafund – whose founder, Martin Hughes, is nicknamed “the Rottweiler” for his tenacity and strong-arm tactics with target companies – nearly doubled its stake to 26.4%, making it Ted Baker’s biggest shareholder. The offer for subscription is unlikely to dramatically change any shareholders’ position.

The fundraising comes hot on the heels of the sale and leaseback of Ted Baker’s London headquarters, the Ugly Brown Building, which raised £72m to pay back lenders in March.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused revenues to slump by 36% between 26 January 2020 to 2 May 2020, with department stores and branches closed by a government order.

Kelvin left the company in March 2019 after allegations of inappropriate behaviour, including “forced hugs”. He denied all allegations of misconduct.

The emergency fundraising comes after a difficult year for the retailer. In delayed results, Ted Baker reported a loss before tax of £79.9m in the year to 25 January, before the pandemic started to affect sales, and a 1.4% fall in revenues. That compares to a £30.7m profit a year before.

The company blamed its struggles in part on the departure of Kelvin, which triggered a round of disruption in the company’s leadership. Amid a tough retail environment, Ted Baker announced a string of profit warnings over the course of the year, as well as an audit error in which it overestimated the value of clothes in its warehouses by £32.4m. Ted Baker on Monday appointed BDO as its new auditor, replacing KPMG after the scandal.

Rachel Osborne, the new chief executive, said the company had strengthened controls in the business to “ensure nothing like this can ever happen again”. Osborne said an investigation by accountancy firm Deloitte was on-going.

Osborne’s turnaround plan for the business, launched on Monday, includes broadening the brand’s offering to make its clothing “more relevant to all day/week occasions” and to sell more accessories and shoes.

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The company will also invest more in updating its website , which has offered a bright spot during the lockdown. Online sales have risen by 78% year on year since 22 March, the day before the UK lockdown began.

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