British luxury clothing retail brand Ted Baker’s Founder and CEO Ray Kelvin has resigned amidst an investigation into allegations that he behaved inappropriately towards staff.
In a statement on Monday, the company said that Kelvin has left with immediate effect. He had been on a voluntary leave of absence since last December following allegations of harassment, including ‘forced hugging’ of staff members, reported CNN.
Complaints over Kelvin’s behaviour first emerged late last year.
Thousands of people, including members of staff and customers, signed an online petition demanding an end to the hugging practice and a better system for reporting harassment allegations at the firm.
The petition included accusations of ‘inappropriate touching’ by Kelvin and ‘a culture that leaves harassment unchallenged.’
Kelvin has denied all claims that he acted inappropriately towards employees.
A third-party investigation into the allegations against him and into Ted Baker’s policy on handling sexual harassment complaints is due to wrap up before the end of June.
“In light of the allegations made against him, Ray has decided that it is in the best interests of the company for him to resign so that the business can move forward under new leadership,” David Bernstein, Executive Chairman said in the statement.
Kelvin founded the high-end fashion chain in 1988 with a single store in the UK city of Glasgow. It now has more than 500 outlets worldwide.
Kelvin was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), an honour one rank below a knighthood, in 2011 for services to the fashion industry.