07/12/2018 17:04 GMT | Updated 07/12/2018 18:07 GMT

Ted Baker Founder Takes Temporary Leave Of Absence After Harassment Allegations

Shares in the fashion company recently fell to a five-year low.

Neil Hall / Reuters
Ray Kelvin, seen here in 2015, always obscures his face in official photographs

Ted Baker founder and chief executive Ray Kelvin is taking a temporary leave of absence after allegations of harassment were made against him.

The company said a committee of directors established to look into the claims had been made aware of “further serious allegations” regarding Kelvin.

Ted Baker said he had agreed to go on leave “for the benefit of the business and the people who work in it”.

Claims that Kelvin enforced a “hugging” culture at the company emerged over the weekend, after a petition was launched calling for an end to “harassment”.

Accusations were also made that he massaged employees, kissed their ears and asked some to sit on his lap.

In a statement issued after the news was announced, Kelvin said the accusations had “raised some very serious and upsetting issues”.

“Ted Baker has been my life and soul for 30 years,” he said.

“I love this company and I care deeply for all my colleagues. It’s for that reason that I have decided to take a temporary leave of absence.

The company said it had been made aware of “further serious allegations” concerning Kelvin’s conduct.

Chief operating officer Lindsay Page has been appointed interim CEO.