December 7, 2018 / 5:09 PM / 9 days ago

Ted Baker says CEO Kelvin to go on leave during investigation

FILE PHOTO: People shelter under umbrellas as they pass a Ted Baker a store in London, Britain October 06, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo

(Reuters) - Ted Baker’s (TED.L) CEO and founder Ray Kelvin is to take a voluntary leave of absence while allegations about his conduct are investigated, the British fashion retailer said on Friday.

The move follows an online campaign claiming to represent over 200 employees which called on the company to end “forced hugging” and “a culture that leaves harassment unchallenged.”

Ted Baker said this week that an independent committee of non-executive directors had been appointed to ensure the views and concerns mentioned in the petition were considered and appropriate responses taken.

The committee subsequently appointed law firm Herbert Smith Freehills LLP to conduct an investigation into the reports.

Ted Baker said on Friday it had been made aware of further serious allegations about the conduct of Kelvin, “which it will also be investigating”. It said it would not comment on the nature of the allegations.

“Ray Kelvin has agreed, for the benefit of the business and the people who work in it, that he will take a voluntary leave of absence from his role with the company while these allegations are investigated,” the company said in a statement.

Reuters was unable to reach Kelvin for comment. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent by email.

Ted Baker Chief Operating Officer Lindsay Page was appointed acting CEO while Kelvin was on leave, the company said.

Kelvin, 62, who owns about 35 percent of the company according to Refinitiv Eikon data, developed the Ted Baker brand and has been CEO since the company was launched in 1988.

Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Jane Merriman and Edmund Blair

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