Ted Baker has reported flat sales in the third quarter as it launches an independent investigation into allegations of “forced hugging”.
Overall sales fell 0.2% in the 16 weeks to 1 December year on year, dragged down by wholesale, which dropped 6.5% because of the earlier timing of wholesale deliveries in the first half of the year. Ted Baker anticipates mid-to-high-single-digit wholesale sales growth for the full year.
Total retail sales including online increased by 2.3% for the period and the average retail square footage rose by 5.2% to 427,586 sq ft. Online sales increased by 18% and represented 30.3% of total retail sales, up from 26.3% for the same period in 2017.
Total retail sales for the last eight weeks of the period grew by 4% as the weather became “more typical” for the season.
Ted Baker said the performance was achieved despite “continuing challenging external trading conditions” across its markets. The business said in the UK, Europe and the east coast of America, trade was affected by unseasonal weather and trading in the UK continues to be impacted by the “well-publicised challenges” facing some of its trading partners.
Ted Baker said its product and territorial licensees continued to perform well. It opened licensed stores in India, Kosovo, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and South Korea.
The company has appointed independent law firm Herbert Smith Freehills to conduct an independent external investigation into the reports of alleged harassment and a culture of “forced hugging”. Herbert Smith Freehills will report into a committee of the company’s non-executive directors that will be chaired by Sharon Baylay.
Last week a petition from Ted Baker staff was arranged through website Organise, which helps workers to lobby for changes at their workplaces. It was allegedly launched by a Ted Baker employee and claimed CEO Ray Kelvin has asked “young female members of staff to sit on his knee” and “regularly makes sexual innuendos at staff”.
Commenting on trading Kelvin said: “The investment in our flexible business model ensures that the Ted customer has multiple channels to engage with the brand and underpins our long-term development.
“Our global ecommerce business continues to grow well and is complemented by our digital marketing strategy and unique stores that showcase the brand.”