He’s the man who ran Top Shop in its 80s heyday. And he was the
chief executive in charge of the UK launch of Barry Diller’s shopping
channel, QVC, in the early 90s.
Last Friday, Peter Ridsdale really made his mark. He began the relaunch
of the moribund Sock Shop brand by hiring topless tottie, Melinda
Messenger, to pose in just a pair of Sock Shop socks for the Sun and
offered the first 25 readers through the door of each branch pounds 25
of free merchandise (Campaign, 14 February).
The Valentine’s Day stunt was all part of what Ridsdale calls ’putting
the sparkle back into Sock Shop’. The idea, brought to him - and you -
by K Advertising, is just a tactical promotion, he stresses, and will
not pitch the new Sock Shop as a downmarket brand. ’Valentine’s Day is
the day you buy fun products,’ he smiles. ’And Melinda Messenger has all
the necessary attributes to show off our products at their best.’
Fun is an important element of the identity Ridsdale wants to give the
Sock Shop. It does, after all, stock lingerie for having fun in. But
credibility as a quality retailer is also imperative if Sock Shop is to
attract ordinary folk to its core offering of socks and tights.
The brief Ridsdale has given to K Advertising for the relaunch ad
campaign, which will kick off just before Easter, demands a subtle blend
Ridsdale, a director of Leeds United FC, lives with his wife and kids in
the rolling northern countryside - somewhere between the Lake District
and the North Yorkshire Dales - because that is where the Tulchan Group,
which bought Sock Shop from the receiver last June and of which he is
chief executive, is based. Tulchan also owns Jumper and a wholesale
Like the Sock Shop, the Tulchan Group was in deep trouble before
Ridsdale arrived in September 1994. He used his wealth of retail
experience to bring it back into profit in his first year. Now he must
prove that he also has the marketing nous to make the Sock Shop a brand
to reckon with again.