Tie Rack History
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Tie Rack 1981
May 1981 - Roy Bishko's Big Idea
Roy Bishko always had a dream of starting a business. He qualified as a lawyer and worked as a Senior Executive in a large company in South Africa and was transferred to London. The Partners in the company were wealthy and very well dressed. They always wore tailored suits and beautiful ties. Roy always loved colour, but found excellent ties too expensive. He used to wait for the Harrods Sale because there was always a great selection of lovely ties at much lower prices. He was not alone because the Harrods Sale in the Men’s ties department was always jam packed. In fact, it reminded him of the time he had been caught in a swarm of locusts in his native South Africa.
He had started a cobbling business, We Heel, to resole heels on shoes. It was when Roy had twisted his knee in a golfing accident and was lying in Clementine Churchill Hospital in London recovering, that his thoughts turned to ties. He started to imagine a store filled with a variety of magnificent silk ties at prices that would not make people cry!
June 1981 – The Experiment
In the front of his WeHeel store in Oxford Street, London, Roy had experimented with selling sandals and so had bars for display purposes. Roy placed an order with a leading tie wholesaler, DPT, and displayed the ties over the racks. The response was instantaneous and after the first day, more stock was needed. One of the two brothers that ran DPT delivered parked outside the store, in the boot of a Ford Granada with boxes full of really nice ties. He looked into the window and was shocked, and his cigar started shaking, because Roy was selling the ties at cost price. He said, “you can’t do that, you’ll go bust. You have to have a profit margin. You must multiply the cost by two and add VAT”. Roy said not to worry about that and as long as the supplier got paid, he should surely be happy. Roy’s idea was first to see if there was a market for the product and then to worry about the price and the profit margin. Roy subsequently read that the Chairman of Sony, Akio Morita, had used exactly the same methodology in the development of the Sony Walkman. The initial price of manufacture was extremely high and Chairman Akio Morita realised that if he could develop the right product, he could generate enormous sales and would then be able to make economies of scale in the manufacturing and thus would have efficient profit margin to make a business.
Roy’s ties sold like hotcakes and his mind was made up.
August 1981 – Tie Rack Was Born
As the experiment was a clear success, Roy embarked on a mission to source the best possible range of silk ties. He went to Italy and explained his plans to some Italian designers and manufacturers. They were enthusiastic and his source of design and supply was secured. The original suppliers continue to remain our suppliers to this day. Enthused by the response, he transformed his 91 Oxford Street, WeHeel store into the very first Tie Rack - specialising in high quality men’s ties at prices the average man could afford.
Something for the Ladies
Most of the shoppers, surprisingly, were ladies buying for their men. Roy immediately introduced a line of luxury ladies scarves from Italy.
The range of scarves, much like our first ever ties, flew out of the store and ever since our ladies scarves have been a prominent part of Tie Rack.
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