Ted Baker Shares Sink After Staff Accuse Owner of Inappropriate Hugs

Daniel Fowler
December 5, 2018

The allegations came to light as more than 2,500 signed an online petition calling for an end to "forced "hugging" by the CEO", calling it "part of a culture that leaves harassment unchallenged".

The petition also alleges that there's a culture of "forced hugging" at Ted Baker, which facilitates sexual harassment.

The petition has so far been signed by around 2,500 people, of which nearly 200 are understood to be current or former employees.

Despite a "well documented" pattern of harassment, Ted Baker's human resources department has turned a blind eye to 62-year-old Kelvin's behavior, according to the petitioners on Organise, a UK-based worker advocacy site.

It's not looking great for Kelvin's public image: put together, a man who hides behind things both physically and metaphorically (Ted Baker is his made-up alter ego) being accused of inappropriately touching his staff starts to look pretty creepy indeed.

Staff claim that as well as engaging them in unwelcome embraces, the brand's founder asked young female members of staff to sit on his knee, cuddle him, or let him massage their ears. "Hugs have become part of Ted Baker's culture, but are absolutely not insisted upon".

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The news comes just days before Ted Baker is set to release its third quarter figures on Thursday 6 December.

Kelvin, who keeps a low profile and refuses to have his face photographed, is ranked at number 244 on the 2018 Sunday Times Rich List.

The company initially gave a statement to the BBC that Kelvin often greets people, "with a hug, be it a shareholder, investor, supplier, partner, customer or colleague".

The company said it has "clear and robust" h.r. policies in place to provide employees with a wide range of reporting options for any issues that they might encounter.

'Accordingly, they and the board take these concerns very seriously and the board has directed a thorough and urgent independent external investigation is carried out into these matters, ' it added.

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