Share­holder sup­port fades for Ted Baker founder

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Ash­ley Armstrong and Sam Mead­ows

SHARE­HOLDER sup­port for Ted Baker’s boss is wa­ver­ing af­ter he abruptly an­nounced he was tak­ing a leave of ab­sence from the com­pany fol­low­ing fresh “se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions”.

One top-five share­holder, who pre­vi­ously sup­ported Ray Kelvin and had wanted him to stay, said he could no longer back the re­tail boss with­out know­ing the full ex­tent of the “sin­is­ter” al­le­ga­tions.

The Daily Tele­graph re­ported yes­ter­day that a fe­male em­ployee al­leged the 62-year-old busi­ness­man had strad­dled her at a staff fancy dress party; ad­ding to com­plaints of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour that have in­cluded forced hug­ging, neck mas­sages and ask­ing employees to sit on his knee.

A fur­ther 100 al­le­ga­tions have been made by Or­gan­ise, which first launched an on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing for an end to Ted Baker’s “cul­ture of ha­rass­ment”. It is un­der­stood that Ted Baker’s non-ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Sharon Bay­ley, who is work­ing along­side Her­bert Smith Free­hills on an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion, is due to meet Or­gan­ise next week.

The Sun­day Tele­graph also un­der­stands that Mr Kelvin’s sec­ond wife, Clare, who he met through work, con­tin­ues to be em­ployed by the re­tailer and in­tends to work next week as usual.

Ted Baker’s chair­man David Bern­stein em­barked on an ur­gent can­vass­ing of in­vestors last week af­ter shares tum­bled by as much as 20pc.

Mr Bern­stein is un­der­stood to have promised in­vestors there would not be a “cover-up” but said he was aware that share­hold­ers were in­vested in Mr Kelvin rather than the Ted Baker brand.

The chair­man is also thought to have told in­vestors that Ted Baker’s suc­ces­sion plan would be re­viewed. Ted Baker said on Fri­day that chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Lind­say Page would be tak­ing over as act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive.

The same day, Mr Kelvin vol­un­teered to take a leave of ab­sence af­ter be­ing told there were fur­ther “se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions”. It is un­der­stood that he had al­ready vol­un­teered to stop hug­ging and now “ap­pre­ci­ates times have changed”.

His sup­port­ers have high­lighted the com­pany’s “cheeky” ap­proach to its mar­ket­ing, which have in­cluded shop win­dows fea­tur­ing lap danc­ing Fa­ther Christ­mases, as in­dica­tive of the ir­rev­er­ent way the founder ran the chain.

Ray Kelvin, the Ted Baker boss, vol­un­teered to take a leave of ab­sence af­ter be­ing told of fur­ther se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions against him

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