Client of the Week: Sock Shop chief aims for fun - Peter Ridsdale’s relaunch has put sex back into the sock chain

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.

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

of both.



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

brand.



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.



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