Ted Baldock: chasing his own gold medal
Long-time footwear expert Ted Baldock can’t take the grin off his face.
It is a couple of weeks since the announcement that RCG Corporation had acquired shoe retailer HypeDC, adding to a rapidly expanding empire, reports Sportslink Editor Maggie Coleman.
And he is still delighted with the massive step forward this latest acquisition is on the path to what he describes as his “personal gold medal“, that of cracking $1 billion market capitalisation by the end of FY 2017.
As Executive Director of Sydney-based RCG Brands and responsible for product in the RCG Corporation triumvirate of chief executive Hilton Brett and board chairman Ivan Hammerschlag, he says the journey so far on the road to becoming “the biggest force in Australia’s footwear industry has been a fairytale.”
And it is an amazing achievement – from January 2010 when the popular outdoor footwear brand Merrell joined RCG Brands from Pacific Brands and a market capitalisation of $70 million, today “our company has moved into the top 200 on the ASX and over $900 million CAP. My goal is to crack $,1,000,000 by end 2017, ” he says.
The latest acquisition brings 57 Hype DC and three Shubar retail stores, in metro and major regional locations and substantial online business with group sales of around $120m.
Hype DC is described as “a retailer of premium, exclusive and limited edition sneakers, curated from the world’s leading brands.
“The mono?branded Shubar stores carry the full range of men's and women's Shubar shoes, boots and sandals as well as a tight range of other premium brands (including several of RCG group’s brands).”
Founders Danny and Cindy Gilbert will continue to run the business and its expansion plans.
Says Hilton Brett, “Danny and Cindy Gilbert, together with the rest of the Hype management team, have proven themselves to be consummate retailers and we are delighted to welcome them to the group.
“We look forward to working with them as we continue to break new ground in the distribution and retail of branded footwear in the Australian and New Zealand markets.”
Ted Baldock reports that “not many people gave us the chance of delivering this wonderful ride – in fact, when I announced at my 60th birthday party that I was joining RCG Corporation, many friends loudly doubted we could pull it off.
“But it has been a wonderful ride and it has not ended yet for me.”
Baldock is a byword in the sports industry for his enthusiasm and experience in building brands, with 27 years in partnership with elder brother Cyril – also well known for his achievements as a cross Channel swimmer – when the pair built their swimwear brand Spank into a major player, and launched footwear brands LA Gear, Merrell and Saucony into Australia.
He headed up a division of Pacific Brands with Merrell for about five years, before the brand, Baldock and his team of ten moved to RCG Brands and have since flourished.
RCG Corporation currently includes retail chains The Athletes Foot, Podium Sports and Platypus, plus own brand stores for several of the major footwear brands in the stable; The Accent Group ( Sketchers, Dr Martens, Vans and Timberland, Palladium and Stance brands), popular running brand Saucony; rapidly growing sailing and lifestyle brand for men and women Sperry; from-base –station-to-train-station brand Merrell, plus Caterpillar and Cushe.
Baldock says, “I believe in and am excited by all my brands, and have an excellent team of brand managers who all get the will-to-win and sound business building that is essential to continued growth.”
Sperry is shining just now, as the footwear sponsor of the Australian Olympic swimming team with high profile swimming Australia president, Olympian and victorious international sailor John Bertrand representing the brand for many years. Sperry also sponsors the US Americas Cup Team Oracle.
In July 2010 some months after Baldock joined the RCG team, he told Sportslink in an interview of his business secrets for successful brand building.
“This is what I believed then and this is what I believe now: first is the right people in the right jobs, then the brand merchandising plan. Number three is getting the distribution right and then comes the budget at number four.”
“We expect our teams to win gold medals in their roles – showing instinct and intuition ahead of intellect.
“The world and our products are constantly changing but the formula for success hasn’t changed trust and respect for your customers, your brand and your colleagues.
“My mother Sophie always said ‘the essence of excellence is simplicity’ and she was right.”
Baldock says that when he joined RCG Brands, there was no wholesale business “and we have built it up from nothing”.
And the best is yet to come he says, having “one last big hit” in mind before hanging up his business shoes.
When the father of two and doting grandfather of four does hang up those shoes, brother Cyril wants him to join him in swimming the English Channel as the first team of brothers to do so.
And will he? “Probably not - he knows I don’t like cold water!”