Ted Baker boss Ray Kelvin resigns amid ‘forced hugging’ harassment claims

THE founder of the Ted Baker fashion chain has resigned following allegations of harassment, including “forced hugging”.

Ray Kelvin, 63, was forced to take a leave of absence in December last year amid claims that he enforced a “hugging” culture at the company.

Ray Kelvin, centre, with Michael Parkinson and his wife Mary at a book signing in 2018
Getty – Contributor

Accusations were also made that he massaged employees, kissed their ears and asked some to sit on his lap.

Mr Kelvin, who owns nearly 35 percent of the company, denies all allegations of misconduct, but Ted Baker said on Monday that he agreed to resign as chief executive and director of the retail chain that was founded in Glasgow in 1988.

Executive chairman David Bernstein said: “Ray Kelvin founded the business 32 years ago and has, together with the fantastic team around him, been the driving force behind it becoming the global brand it is today.

“As founder and CEO, we are grateful for his tireless energy and vision. However, in light of the allegations made against him, Ray has decided that it is in the best interests of the company for him to resign so that the business can move forward under new leadership.”

Mr Kelvin himself said that stepping away is the “right thing to do”.

He said: “The past few months have been deeply distressing and I’ll now be taking time privately with my family to consider what my next adventure will be. Bye for now, Ray.”

An internal independent committee has been in the process of investigating the allegations alongside law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.

The probe will continue, with the primary focus now on Ted Baker’s policies, procedures and handling of complaints.

Acting chief executive Lindsay Page has agreed to continue in the role, with Mr Bernstein providing additional support in an executive capacity until no later than November 30 2020, by which time a successor will be appointed.

Mr Bernstein added: “As a board of directors, we are committed to ensuring that all employees feel respected and valued. We are determined to learn lessons from what has happened and from what our employees have told us and to ensure that, while the many positive and unique aspects of Ted’s culture are maintained, appropriate changes are made.”

“Sharon Baylay has agreed to act as the designated non-executive director for engagement with the Ted workforce. Led by Lindsay, we are confident that the strong and experienced team we have in place will build the Ted culture and move the business forward.”

Employees at the company launched an online petition accusing him of inappropriate comments and behaviour.

The petition, set up on the workplace website Organise, claimed that more than 200 Ted Baker staff were breaking their silence and there had been at least “50 recorded incidents of harassment” within the company.

Ted Baker has around 500 outlets in the UK and abroad.

Kelvin, who is notoriously camera-shy, doesn’t like his picture being taken
Getty Images – Getty
Ted Baker has around 500 stores worldwide, including this one on Regent Street
Getty Images – Getty
David Bernstein will carry as as the firm’s executive chairman
AP:Associated Press

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