Ted Baker sales slipped 0.2% in its last quarter and it has hired law firm Herbert Smith Freehills to investigate workplace harassment claims.

Herbert Smith Freehills has been hired following the launch of an online petition from Ted Baker staff, which claimed that boss Ray Kelvin has hugged workers and kissed their necks and ears.

The law firm will report to a committee of the company’s non-executive directors chaired by Sharon Baylay.

Challenging market

Ted Baker sales slipped 0.2% – 0.4% in constant currency – last quarter as the UK was hit by “the well-publicised challenges” of some of its trading partners and unseasonable weather.

Retail sales including ecommerce advanced 2.3% but wholesale revenue fell 6.5% in the 16 weeks to December 1.

The retailer said it had anticipated the wholesale decline, which it said was due to the timing of deliveries.

Ted Baker said trading conditions were challenging and in the UK, Europe and the East coast of the US, trade was affected by unseasonal weather at the start of the period. Total retail sales for the last eight weeks of the period increased by 4% as the weather became more typical for the season.

Ecommerce sales, which now account for more than 30% of Ted Baker sales, surged 18%.

Kelvin said:We are pleased with the brand’s continued expansion, which is a reflection of the strength of the Ted Baker brand and the design and quality of our collections.”

“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.”