Shareholder support fades for Ted Baker founder
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