A look from the most recent Ted Baker campaign.

RAPID RESPONSE: British high street retailer Ted Baker has appointed the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, to conduct an independent external investigation into harassment complaints from members of staff.

The brand said Thursday that Herbert Smith Freehills will report into a committee of Ted Baker’s non-executive directors that will be chaired by Sharon Baylay, a business coach and mentor who has been a non-executive director at Ted Baker since June.

As reported, female staff members have started an online petition urging the company to “end harassment at Ted Baker” and “scrap the forced ‘hugs.’”

Staffers have accused Ray Kelvin, Ted Baker’s founder who has a 35 percent stake in the company, of inappropriate hugging, touching and sexual innuendo. They have also said the company’s h.r. department has been slow to address their concerns. The company has denied any wrongdoing.

Despite a drop in the FTSE 100 on Thursday, shares in Ted Baker closed up 1.6 percent to 14.90 pounds. Earlier in the day, the company said in a trading update that revenue was broadly flat in the four months to Dec. 1.

The flat performance was largely due to a decline in wholesale sales stemming from the timing of deliveries. By contrast, total retail sales including e-commerce increased by 2.3 percent, Ted Baker said.

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