Ted Baker

The founder and chief executive of high-end fashion brand Ted Baker, Ray Kelvin, has resigned over allegations of harassment.

Kelvin has been on voluntary leave since December after the allegations surfaced surrounding a forced "hugging culture".

In December, Ted Baker staff launched a petition accusing Kelvin of inappropriate comments and behaviour, which included 200 employees recording at least "50 incidents of harassment".

Mr Kelvin has strongly denied ever introducing a hugging culture.

Among the claims made by staff include asking young female colleagues to sit on his knee, cuddle him and let him massage their ears.

Mr Kelvin said: "Difficult though this decision is given that Ted Baker has been my life and soul for over 30 years, I've decided that the right thing to do is to step away from Ted and allow the business to focus on being the outstanding brand it is so it can face 2019 with fresh energy and renewed spirit.

"As a shareholder in the business I'll support Lindsay in his leadership and be available to him and the team wherever I can offer helpful advice.

"I'm extremely proud of what we've achieved in building Ted Baker to the global brand it is today. Thank you to every single colleague, customer, supplier, and investor for your commitment to the business. We couldn't have done it without you and I'm so grateful."

Acting chief executive Lindsay Page will continue after Kelvin's resignation, while the board has requested former French Connection chairman David Bernstein act as executive chairman to provide additional support.

In a statement, Mr Bernstein said: "As founder and CEO, we are grateful for his [Ray Kelvin's] tireless energy and vision.

"However, 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."

Ted baker's share price dropped 4% after the announcement but soon recovered. And it comes just a week after the fashion brand issued a profit warning over currency movements and product costs.