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Ted Baker to overhaul HR functions in wake of Ray Kelvin probe

The clothing retailer’s founder was accused of enforcing a ‘hugging’ culture at the company.

Ted Baker founder Ray Kelvin was accused of enforcing a ‘hugging culture’ (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Ted Baker founder Ray Kelvin was accused of enforcing a ‘hugging culture’ (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Ted Baker has announced the conclusion of an investigation into harassment allegations levelled at founder Ray Kelvin, which identified “several areas for improvement” in the clothing retailer’s HR practices.

The probe, carried out by Herbert Smith Freehills, focused on the company’s policies, procedures and handling of HR-related complaints.

Following interviews with current and former employees, the law firm identified “several areas for improvement in the company’s HR policies and procedures”.

As a result, Ted Baker has begun a “refresh of its HR policies to ensure their alignment with current best practice”.

However, the company refused to comment on the specific allegations which were made against Mr Kelvin, who was accused of enforcing a “hugging” culture at the company.

Accusations were also made that he massaged employees, kissed their ears and asked some to sit on his lap.

We are determined to learn from this process and, moving forward, cultivate a better environment for all employees where they always feel respected and valued David Bernstein, chairman, Ted Baker

Chairman David Bernstein said: “We are determined to learn from this process and, moving forward, cultivate a better environment for all employees where they always feel respected and valued.

“We are implementing changes and improvements and are committed to developing best-practice HR policies and procedures that reflect the Ted culture we are looking to develop and enhance in the future.”

The high street fashion chain will embark on renewed training for all employees on HR policies and procedures and on acceptable workplace conduct, and maintain an independent and confidential whistleblowing hotline.

It will also look to enhance the oversight of both people and culture matters at the board level.

Ted Baker also announced that acting boss Lindsay Page will become chief executive on a permanent basis with immediate effect following Mr Kelvin’s departure earlier this year.

He said: “I am delighted to have been chosen by the board to be the company’s new CEO.

“We have a strong brand and outstanding teams around the world, and I am confident that together we will continue to build on our success and continue to develop Ted Baker as a global lifestyle brand.”

The scandal first emerged when employees launched a petition on workplace campaign platform Organise, calling for an end to the culture of harassment.

Nat Whalley, chief executive of Organise, said on Thursday: “The actions Ted Baker are taking are exactly what thousands of people on the Organise petition called for.

“Together, we’ve helped to change the culture at Ted Baker. But more importantly, we’ve sent a message to companies that ignoring reports of harassment is bad for business.”

PA

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