Ray Kelvin has stepped down from his position as CEO and director of UK fashion label Ted Baker amid allegations of misconduct.
The company’s founder and former CEO had been taking a voluntary leave of absence after employees launched an online petition in December 2018, accusing him of inappropriate comments and conduct, including forced hugging.
An ‘independent committee’ within the business has been in the process of investigating the allegations over the past three months. The committee commissioned the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) to investigate the allegations and the comapny’s policies, procedures and handling of HR-related complaints.
The investigation will continue, with the primary focus now on Ted Baker’s policies, procedures and handling of complaints. It is expected that HSF will conclude its investigation at the end of Q1 or early in Q2 2019.
Kelvin has denied all allegations of misconduct, but he resigned on Monday with immediate effect. Acting CEO Lindsay Page has agreed to continue in her role, and director David Bernstein has been asked to act as executive chairman to provide additional support to Page.
Bernstein said he will continue in this position until no later than 30 November 2020, by which time a successor will be appointed. In a regulatory statement. Bernstein attempted to toe the line between thanking Kelvin, and expressing his support for Ted Baker’s staff.
“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,” Bernstein said.
“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.
“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.”
Taking such a middle-of-the-road position, however, seems untenable in the long run. Just last month Karren Brady stepped down from her position as chair of Taveta Investments, the holding company of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, which in turn owns the UK fashion retailer Topshop, amid ongoing allegations that Green has sexual harassed and made racist remarks to in-store staff.
There are new calls for Green to lose his knighthood and step down from his position.
This story first appeared on our sister site Inside Retail Australia.