The Ted Baker chief executive, Ray Kelvin, has resigned following allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards staff.
Kelvin took a voluntary leave of absence from his role in December after allegations of misconduct were made against him. Since then an internal independent committee has been investigating those claims, and commissioned the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) to investigate the allegations and the company’s policies, procedures and handling of HR-related complaints.
Kelvin has denied all allegations of misconduct, but has agreed to resign with immediate effect from his position as chief executive and a director of Ted Baker, the firm said.
Acting chief executive officer Lindsay Page has agreed to continue in this role, and the board has asked David Bernstein to act as executive chairman. He will stay on in this role until no later than 30 November 2020, by which time a successor will be appointed.
The fashion chain’s founder has been criticised by former and current staff for a regime of “forced hugs” and alleged harassment at its head office.
The company said the remainder of the investigation will focus on its policies, procedures and handling of complaints. It is expected that HSF will conclude its investigation later this month or in early April.
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 chief executive, 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.
“As a board of directors, we are committed to ensuring that 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.”
Baylay, a former BBC Worldwide and Microsoft executive who joined Ted Baker’s board last summer, was appointed to lead the investigation in December.