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Ted Baker chairman John Barton dies

·2 min read

The chairman of Ted Baker, who also once led the boards of easyJet and Next, has died, the company said on Monday.

John Barton passed away suddenly, the business told its investors, without revealing further information.

Ted Baker chief executive Rachel Osborne said: “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.”

On behalf of the board, director Helena Feltham said: “John combined a generosity of spirit with insight, humility and humour and we will all miss him.

“He led the board with great skill and it was a privilege to have worked with him. Our hearts go out to his family.”

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John Barton spent more than a decade as Next chairman (Michael Crockett/Next/PA)

Ms Feltham will become interim chairman of the company with immediate effect.

Mr Baker, who turned 77 in August, spent more than a decade as the chairman of fashion chain Next.

He was named chairman of the Ted Baker board last year as the business was in the midst of a major economic hit from Covid-19 lockdowns and also reeling from a scandal that forced its founder to step away.

Ray Kelvin resigned last March amid complaints from staff of inappropriate conduct. He denied the allegations.

Mr Barton also spent nine years as the chairman of easyJet, leaving earlier in 2021 following a public argument with the airline’s founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

The chairman managed to convince 58% of shareholders to back him after Sir Stelios called a vote on his future.

The founder was furious that easyJet was pushing ahead with a plan to buy £4.5 billion worth of planes from Airbus at a time when the airline’s future was uncertain due to the pandemic.

During his decades-long career, Mr Barton also chaired Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group and Cable & Wireless, among others, and sat on the boards of WH Smith and retail landlord Hammerson.

Former WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann, who now chairs Moonpig, said: “John gave me my first job as CEO and was quite simply the best chair and SID (senior independent director) you could possibly have had – he had insane skills of knowing what to say when, he was insightful, supportive, never flinched when difficult discussions had to be had, and people loved working with him.

“I would walk over hot coals for one more lunch where he shared his wisdom.

“He was the best of the best, and so unassuming and willing to give of his time to help people grow and develop.”

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