Ted Baker founder Ray Kelvin takes leave of absence amid investigation into 'serious allegations'

Staff have claimed there was a culture of 'forced hugging' by Mr Kelvin

Ted Baker founder Ray Kelvin takes leave of absence amid investigation into 'serious allegations'

Picture by: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images

The boss of fashion company Ted Baker is taking a leave of absence amid allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

The British company has launched an independent investigation into reports about the conduct of founder and CEO Ray Kelvin, with the board now saying it has been made aware of "further serious allegations".

It comes after employees at the company alleged there was a culture of 'forced hugging' and other inappropriate behaviour by Mr Kelvin.

Staff launched a petition to highlight their allegations, and received more than 2,500 signatures.

Those behind the petition accused the CEO of having asked young female staff members "to sit on his knee, cuddle him, or let him massage their ears".

Today, Ted Baker announced that Kelvin is now taking a voluntary leave of absence "for the benefit of the business and the people who work in it" while the investigation is ongoing.

The firm's COO Lindsay Page has been appointed as acting CEO.

David Bernstein, the company's non-executive chairman, said: "As previously stated, the Board has moved quickly to appoint Herbert Smith Freehills LLP to conduct a thorough and independent external investigation into recent reports regarding the company and its CEO.

"Ted Baker has great people across its global teams as well as a highly experienced operational Board underpinned by the strength and experience of our teams, I am confident that the business remains in a strong position to continue to deliver its long-term growth strategy."