- Ted Baker founder Ray Kelvin, who resigned in March 2019, will now be represented on the British retailer’s board as part of a new “relationship agreement.”
- In December 2018, staff accused Kelvin of asking female employees to “sit on his knee, cuddle him, or let him massage their ears.”
- He denied all the allegations. He resigned in March 2019, saying he wanted to “allow the business to focus on being the outstanding brand it is.”
- Ted Baker announced 500 redundancies in July, and has raised emergency funds to see itself through the pandemic.
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Ted Baker founder and former CEO Ray Kelvin will once again take an active role in the company, 18 months after he resigned under a cloud of misconduct allegations, including that he demanded hugs from female staff.
Under a newly signed “relationship agreement,” Kelvin will be represented on the company’s board by corporate financial adviser Colin La Fontaine Jackson, who is a non-executive director. Kelvin currently owns an 11.8% share of the luxury clothing company.
Staff launched a petition in December 2018 that said harassment was “part of a culture” at Ted Baker. It accused Kelvin of asking younger female colleagues to “sit on his knee, cuddle him, or let him massage their ears.” Staff also accused the company’s HR department of failing to respond to reports of harassment, which they said were “wilfully ignored by those in charge.”
Kelvin denied all allegations. He took a leave of absence that month, and then resigned in March 2019, saying he was leaving to “allow the business to focus on being the outstanding brand it is.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Ted Baker said the new agreement will safeguard the board’s independence and the interests of shareholders while allowing it to benefit from “Ray’s unique brand experience and insight.”
In June 2020, he cut his stake in the company by 55% as part of a £105 million ($140.37 million) fundraising drive to see the company through the pandemic. This left investment firm Toscafund as the company’s biggest shareholder, with a 26.4% stake.
Sales have dropped by a third during the pandemic, and the company has appointed auditors Deloitte for an internal investigation after it overestimated the value of its stock by around £58 million ($77.4 million).
In July, it announced 500 redundancies – almost a quarter of its total workforce. It was part of the company’s plan to cut costs by £6 million ($8 million) in 2020 after the company faced “very difficult trading conditions” in the year to January 2020, citing Brexit, digital disruption, and changing customer behaviour.
The accusations in 2018 devastated the group’s share price, which has fallen by more than 90% since.