Ted Baker appoints law firm to investigate conduct of chief executive

Move follows reports that Ray Kelvin gave staff members unwanted hugs

Ted Baker said it appointed the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills LLP to conduct an independent external investigation into reports on the office conduct of founder Ray Kelvin.

The firm will report to a committee of the company's non-executive directors that will be chaired by Sharon Baylay, a former Microsoft executive who joined the board in June, Ted Baker said in a statement on Thursday.

The appointment follows reports that Mr Kelvin, who is also chief executive, gave staff members unwanted hugs and asked female employees to sit on his knee. The chief executive also pushed an executive against the wall in a glass meeting room in 2016, according to three people who witnessed the incident and asked not to be named.

Shares rose

The shares rose as much as 4.3 per cent after the company said on Thursday that total retail sales including e-commerce rose 2.3 per cent in the 16 weeks ending on December 1st. The shares had slumped by about one-fifth this week since reports of Mr Kelvin’s behaviour appeared, casting a cloud over a British retail success story with 544 stores worldwide.

The company said it continues to anticipate mid- to high-single-digit wholesale sales growth in constant-currency terms for the full year.

Kelvin is the largest shareholder in Ted Baker, with a stake of about 35 percent. – Bloomberg