The founder and chief executive of the British fashion chain Ted Baker resigned on Monday after current and former employees accused him of inappropriate behavior.
Employees said the executive, Ray Kelvin, would regularly try to massage people in the office, insist on long hugs with staff members, and ask employees for sex, according to a petition that started circulating in December. The petition also said that the company’s human resources department had ignored complaints about the behavior.
Ted Baker in December announced an independent investigation into misconduct claims against Kelvin.
“Mr. Kelvin has denied all allegations of misconduct. He has, however, today agreed to resign with immediate effect from his position as chief executive officer and as a director of Ted Baker Plc,” the company said in a statement.
The company said the investigation would continue until the end of the first quarter or early in the second with the focus turning to Ted Baker’s policies, procedures and handling of complaints.
“Harassment at Ted Baker is well documented but willfully ignored by those in charge,” wrote the authors of the petition, which called for the company to adopt procedures that would allow workers to report harassment to an independent, external organization.
Mr. Kelvin denied the allegations, but agreed on Monday to resign immediately as chief executive and director of Ted Baker, the company said. He had taken a voluntary leave of absence in December.
Kelvin founded his first store in Glasgow in 1988. Ted Baker had 544 stores in August 2018, with 201 in Britain, 110 in Europe and 108 in North America.
Kelvin, who denies allegations of misconduct, said stepping away was the “right thing to do”
Acting Chief Executive Officer Lindsay Page has agreed to continue in the role while David Bernstein will act as executive chairman, the company said.
“We are determined to learn lessons from what has happened and from what our employees have told us and to ensure that, while the many positive and unique aspects of Ted’s culture are maintained, appropriate changes are made,” Executive Chairman David Bernstein said.
Bernstein has indicated he will continue in the position until no later than Nov. 30, 2020, by which time a successor will be appointed, the company said.