by Christopher Blomquist

Global British fashion brand and chain Ted Baker announced in a concise statement yesterday that its Chairman, John Barton, 77, died suddenly. The company provided neither the cause nor time of death.

Barton, a retail veteran who previously served as Chair of Next as well as Cable and Wireless, assumed his role at Ted Baker on July 1, 2020 with the aim to turn around the label’s sagging sales and heal the wounds in the wake of founder Ray Kelvin’s misconduct allegations. Kelvin, who still denies any wrongdoing, left Ted Baker in 2019.

The company recently announced that sales have improved post-lockdown.

John Barton

“When I joined Ted Baker in July 2020, the world (and the Group) had already moved on. The new Executive Team was in place under the inspiring and steady hand of CEO Rachel Osborne. Each new appointment has been a little victory in its own right, bringing valuable experience and confidence to the Company,” Barton wrote in Ted Baker’s most recent Annual Report, for fiscal year 2021. “By this time, not only was the transformation strategy underway, but the team was also making real progress implementing key actions, at a time when much of the world had ground to a halt.”

Osborne said in yesterday’s announcement: “John was a source of great wisdom for me and for so many of us at Ted Baker and we will hugely miss his support and guidance. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his wife, Anne, and their family.”

Helena Feltham, Ted Baker’s Senior Independent Director, has already assumed the role of Interim Chairman at the 33-year-old company.