Ted Baker Removes Office ‘Hug Zone’ After Complaints Against CEO | News & Analysis

LONDON, United Kingdom — Ted Baker, the UK fashion retailer investigating complaints about founder Ray Kelvin’s conduct, has dismantled a “hug zone” in its London offices.

The area had been identified by a sign on the floor near Kelvin’s desk, which was removed earlier this week, a representative for the company said. The move follows the launch of an online petition by employees who complained about workplace hugging at Ted Baker.

The retailer has been thrown into turmoil by reports that Kelvin, who’s also chief executive, gave staff members unwanted embraces 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.

Ted Baker has appointed the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills LLP to conduct an independent external investigation. The company has said hugs are part of its culture but are not forced on anyone.

The shares rose 3 percent Thursday after losing about one-fifth of their value earlier in the week after allegations against Kelvin emerged.

By David Hellier; editors: Eric Pfanner, John Lauerman.

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