Ted Baker founder resigns amid harassment claims
Ted Baker can kiss “forced huggings” goodbye.
The London-based fashion brand said its founder and chief executive, Ray Kelvin, resigned amid an investigation into sexual harassment allegations made against him.
The eccentric designer, who covers his face when he’s photographed, had been accused of insisting on long hugs with employees, caressing their ears, encouraging them to sit on his knees and even openly asking for sex.
The 62-year-old executive took a leave of absence in December when the allegations surfaced via an Organise.org.uk petition, which was signed by 300 current and former Ted Baker employees.
Employees also said the company’s human resource executives turned a blind eye to their complaints about Kelvin’s bizarre behavior and were told “that’s just what Ray’s like.”
“Mr. Kelvin has denied all allegations of misconduct,” the company said in a statement. “He has, however, today agreed to resign with immediate effect from his position as chief executive officer and a director of Ted Baker.”
“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,” executive chairman David Bernstein said.
Kelvin will not be entitled to any salary or benefits payment, the company said.
The company said it continues to investigate the matter.
Lindsay Page, the former chief operating officer who stepped up as acting CEO, will continue in that role, the fashion company said.
When the allegations first emerged, the company appeared to defend Kelvin’s actions by insisting, “Ray greets many people he meets with a hug — be it a shareholder, investor, supplier, partner, customer or colleague.”
“Hugs have become part of Ted Baker’s culture, but are absolutely not insisted upon,” the fashion house said in a statement.
“Today’s news of Mr. Kelvin resigning is an incredibly welcome development,” Organise.org executive director Nat Whalley said in a statement. “Mr. Kelvin acted with impunity, abusing his position within the company and relying on his position for protection alone.”
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