Ted Baker’s founder Ray Kelvin has come under fire after current and former staff called for an end to “forced hugging” and alleged harassment at its head office.
According to The Guardian, more than 60 members of staff complained to campaign platform Organise about Kelvin’s alleged behaviour around the head office, accusing him of making staff “uncomfortable” by hugging them, kissing their ears and giving them shoulder massages.
A subsequent petition was published by Organise, which also accused the retailer’s HR department of “willfully ignoring” complaints of harassment made by staff.
The petition, signed by over 1000 current and former staff members, called for new procedures to be brought in allowing staff to report harassment to an “independent, external body”.
In response to the petition, Ted Baker said it would launch an independent investigation into the claims.
“While the claims made are entirely at odds with the values of our business and those of our CEO, we take them very seriously,” it added.
“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.”
This comes ahead of Ted Baker’s third quarter figures later this week, which analysts are predicting will show little relief “after a subdued first-half performance”.
Sales are expected to have grown five per cent, down from the eight per cent growth seen in the same period last year.