Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Ted Baker staff launch petition over 'forced hugging'

Founder and CEO of Ted Baker Ray Kelvin doesn't like showing his face in public Founder and CEO of Ted Baker Ray Kelvin doesn't like showing his face in public
Nellie Chapman | 06 December, 2018, 13:02

Retail chain Ted Baker's shares have fallen to a three-year low after accusations of enforced hugging by founder Ray Kelvin went public last week.

An online campaign claiming to represent more than 200 employees has called on the company to end "forced hugging" and "a culture that leaves harassment unchallenged".

The unnamed uploader of the petition said on the Organise website: "The general feeling inside Ted Baker is that there's no official way to address the issue of harassment".

Mr Kelvin is worth £522m according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

The company said: 'Ray greets many people he meets with a hug, be it a shareholder, investor, supplier, partner customer or colleague'.

The ex-worker also describes an incident in which the CEO rubbed their shoulders in front of a group of visitors to Ted Baker's head office.

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.

Ted Baker said it has "always placed great importance on the company's culture" and it was vital that all staff feel "valued and respected at work".

It described hugs as "part of Ted Baker's culture", but said that they are "absolutely not insisted upon". It assured employees that there were a "wide range of reporting options for any issues that they might encounter, including a completely confidential and anonymous, 24/7 helpline".

"An independent committee of the non-executive directors has been appointed to ensure that the views and concerns are recognised and carefully considered and that appropriate responses are taken forward".

The petition also says complaints to Ted Baker's HR department have been ignored.

Ted Baker, named after a fictitious alter ego of Mr Kelvin, opened its the first store in Glasgow in 1988 and now has 544 outlets worldwide selling fashion and accessories.