MADRID – British fashion retailer Ted Baker said its founder and chief executive has resigned with immediate effect following an investigation into his alleged misconduct.
Ray Kelvin took a voluntary leave of absence from his role as CEO in December after staff accused him of inappropriate behavior, including forced hugs.
Kelvin has denied all allegations but said Monday he had decided to step down to allow the company to move on.
Ted Baker said the investigation by an independent committee and law firm Herbert Smith Freehills into the allegations and company policies would continue. Its focus will now be Ted Baker’s policies, procedures and handling of complaints.
Kelvin grew Ted Baker from a single store in Glasgow in 1988 to a global fashion brand, selling menswear and womenswear through its own stores and wholesale. For 2017, it reported revenue of 531 million pounds ($701 million). It is due to report 2018 results later in March.
Kelvin has been in the spotlight since December when staff launched a petition on Organise, a website for employee campaigns, to “end harassment at Ted Baker.”
The petition said that forced hugging by the CEO was “part of a culture that leaves harassment unchallenged” and accused the company’s human resources department of not dealing with complaints.
Ted Baker said Monday that it expected HSF to conclude its investigation by the end of the first quarter or early in the second.
The company said its acting chief executive, Lindsay Page, had agreed to continue in the role and that David Bernstein would become executive chairman.
“As a board of directors, we are committed to ensuring that all employees feel respected and valued,” Bernstein said.
Kelvin, who owns about 34.9 percent of Ted Baker, won’t be entitled to any salary or benefits payment in connection with his resignation or in respect of any period after the date of his resignation, the company said. It also said his 2016, 2017 and 2018 long-term incentive-plan awards would lapse.