Ted Baker staff complain of ‘forced hugs’ by company founder

Willy Barton  Shutterstock

The petition, posted on workplace campaign website Organise, accuses Ted Baker's CEO and founder Ray Kelvin, 62, of inappropriate behaviour and asks the company's board of directors to "put an end to the awkward "hugging" policy".

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".

Ted Baker are launching a full independent investigation into the "culture of harassment".

Anonymous testimonies gathered by the site include several claims that Mr Kelvin massaged, kissed or inappropriately touched members of staff.

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

In an interview with Retail Week, Kelvin explained that he hugs people because his psoriatic arthritis makes it painful to shake hands, and took offence when it was suggested that people would be uncomfortable doing so.

Staff at the fashion chain Ted Baker have hit out at their boss over an alleged culture of "forced hugging".

In a statement responding to the allegations, Ted Baker said it has "always placed great importance on the company's culture and owes everything to the commitment of our people".

However, one former member of staff who spoke to the Sunday Times about their experiences claimed that Kelvin insisted on hugging new recruits when they joined Ted Baker's head office.

Ted Baker management told the Press Association that the firm is in talks with Organise to "understand the details and nature of the claims". We will then carefully consider the content and recommendations of that report.

Although complaints have been brushed off in the past, the brand promises "a thorough independent investigation is carried out".

Ted Baker is also having to cope with the fallout of the collapse of House of Fraser, where it has a string of concessions.

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