Shares in trend chain Ted Baker have fallen sharply after it mentioned it will examine claims in opposition to founder and chief government Ray Kelvin about “pressured hugs” with colleagues.
An internet petition claiming to be backed by greater than 200 present or former staff has known as on the corporate to finish “a tradition that leaves harassment unchallenged”.
The shares fell 15% on Monday after the allegations – which the corporate mentioned have been “fully at odds” with the values of the enterprise and Mr Kelvin – surfaced over the weekend.
It comes forward of a buying and selling replace by the corporate due on Thursday.
Ted Baker’s shares are down greater than 40% within the yr to this point. In October they noticed a pointy fall after it revealed its income had been knocked by the collapse of Home of Fraser – and warned of a difficult interval forward.
Greater than 60 folks have been mentioned to have come ahead with complaints in relation to the “awkward hugging coverage”.
The petition known as for “a means of reporting harassment to an unbiased, exterior physique” and claimed “HR has achieved nothing with the reviews of harassment”.
It mentioned: “Administrators who abuse their energy ought to be held to account.
“Harassment at Ted Baker is effectively documented however wilfully ignored by these in cost.
“It is time to break the silence.”
The petition web site presupposed to quote a number of unnamed present and former staff detailing their experiences.
“The CEO all the time needs a hug from each member of the employees,” mentioned one.
“It is very uncomfortable and pointless, a easy handshake could be okay. He has kissed the again of the ears of among the those that work there too.”
One other mentioned: “I’ve seen the CEO ask younger feminine members of employees to take a seat on his knee, cuddle him, or let him therapeutic massage their ears.”
A 3rd added: “Pressured hugs and kisses. Invites to star in porn motion pictures with Ray [the CEO] in the midst of the workplace in entrance of everybody.”
The corporate mentioned in an announcement: “Ray greets many individuals he meets with a hug, be it a shareholder, investor, provider, associate, buyer or colleague.
“Hugs have develop into a part of Ted Baker’s tradition, however are completely not insisted upon.
“Whereas the claims made are fully at odds with the values of our enterprise and people of our CEO, we take them very critically and can be certain that a radical unbiased investigation is carried out.”
There was no direct remark from Mr Kelvin himself, who owns a couple of third of the enterprise.
The 62-year-old developed the model and has been chief government because it launched in 1988.