Friday, 14 December, 2018

Retailer Ted Baker to investigate company culture of hugging

NEW YORK NY- SEPTEMBER 22 Atmosphere inside the Ted Baker store during the Ted Baker Wooster VIP Event Staff at Ted Baker have signed a petition calling for an end to ‘awkward hugs’ and harrasment
Laurie Berry | 06 December, 2018, 13:00

Staff at United Kingdom luxury fashion brand Ted Baker have started a petition calling for an end to an alleged culture of "forced hugging" and other inappropriate behaviour.

An online petition claiming to be backed by more than 200 current or former employees has called on the company to end "a culture that leaves harassment unchallenged".

It comes ahead of a trading update on Thursday, when the company is expected to detail another challenging quarter as consumer confidence in the United Kingdom and eurozone remains low.

It is understood the signatories include almost 200 current or former employees.

The petition, which has almost 1,800 signatures, alleges that Kelvin, who launched the first Ted Baker store in 1988, regularly uses sexual innuendo, and has asked young female staff members to sit on his knee or let him massage their ears.

A employee-launched petition accuses chief executive Ray Kelvin of inappropriate behaviour and comments to staff.

Ted Baker said it has "always placed great importance on the company's culture" and it was vital that all staff feel "valued and respected at work".

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The company, which opened its first store in Glasgow in 1988 and now has 544 outlets worldwide, said Kelvin greeted many people with a hug, "be it a shareholder, investor, supplier, partner, customer or colleague".

It described hugs as "part of Ted Baker's culture", but said that they are "absolutely not insisted upon".

The employees also accused the company founder, Ray Kelvin, of harassment.

"The owner regularly makes sexual innuendos at staff, he stroke people's necks, he took off his shirt on one occasion and talked about his sex life", read the claim.

Another said: "I've seen the CEO ask young female members of staff to sit on his knee, cuddle him, or let him massage their ears". I went to HR with a complaint and was told "that's just what Ray's like". "He would hug several people a day and it would be very uncomfortable".

The petition on Organise now has 2,459 as of Monday morning.

Ted Baker shares, traded on the London Stock Exchange, plunged 13 percent Monday morning due to the news.

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