- Johnnie Boden said he ‘effed up’ after the retailer recorded significant losses
The boss of struggling clothing retailer Boden has admitted he was a ‘complete nitwit’ for making the brand too trendy.
Johnnie Boden, the catalogue label’s founder, said he had ‘effed up’ after the company recorded significant losses.
The businessman was unusually upfront about recent decisions, including cutting back on its physical catalogue and neglecting its somewhat conservative look.
The rebrand of the middle-class favourite – worn by the likes of former prime minister David Cameron – will involve messages being sent to customers in which Mr Boden will use phrases such as: ‘Sorry, I’m a complete nitwit. I effed up.’
Mr Cameron’s appearance in the label’s floral swimming trunks while on holiday in Cornwall in 2008 led to stories about the rise of ‘Boden man’, marking high point for the business.
However, the menswear line has already been axed – apparently temporarily. In the immediate future, Boden promises female customers the label will no longer try and be ‘too young’, while its printed catalogue will also continue to be produced after previously being cut back.
On its womenswear line, the 62-year-old explained: ‘We forgot who we were. We changed the product too much. We had less colour, we had shorter silhouettes and we had the sorts of products that were on trend, which is not very us.’
According to The Times, the company recently recorded an annual loss of £4.4million before tax, despite the likes of the Princess of Wales and Princess Charlotte continuing to wear the brand.
‘These things happen. You look at Apple that almost went bust. James Dyson and his electric car, that didn’t work… Gucci was once on its knees. I’ve made a ton of mistakes throughout my career and managed to overcome them’, Mr Boden, who was awarded a CBE for services to fashion this year, said.
He studied at Eton College and Oxford but put ‘enormous sacrifices’ into getting the business up and running in the early 1990s.
He told the BBC in 2014 that his initial offerings were ‘clearly pretty amateurish’, but that year he secured a place on the Rich List with an estimated net worth of £300million. The new direction will first be seen with the launch of this year’s autumn/winter collection.
The Mumsnet online forum has attracted hundreds of posts from former fans wondering where the company went wrong.
One user wrote in February: ‘I loved them [Boden] thirty years ago when I bought a poacher’s jacket… And now I can’t bear the sight of them.’
Another has said: ‘I think they’ve lost their way and it’s not clear who their target audience is now.’