December 10, 2019 / 7:37 AM / 2 months ago

Ted Baker CEO exits as shares pummeled by profit warning

(Reuters) - Ted Baker’s chief executive and chairman quit on Tuesday as the British fashion retailer warned its full-year profit will fall more than expected and suspended its dividend due to weak Black Friday sales, sending its shares to a 16-year low.

Pressure has mounted on Ted Baker’s (TED.L) management team since it disclosed a week ago that it may have overstated inventory by as much as 25 million pounds ($32 million).

Lindsay Page is leaving after just eight months in charge of Ted Baker, which has been struggling with weak consumer demand and misconduct allegations against its founder and former CEO Ray Kelvin, which he has denied.

“The last 12 months has undoubtedly been the most challenging in our history,” Ted Baker said in a statement as its shares fell as much as 30% to 16-year lows.

In contrast to some other British retailers, Ted Baker said its performance during November and the Black Friday sale period was below expectations, leading it to cut its pre-tax profit forecast to a minimum of 5 million pounds.

Ted Baker reported a pretax profit of 50.9 million pounds last year, its first annual profit drop in ten years.

Ted Baker said its recently appointed Chief Financial Officer Rachel Osborne will take over as interim CEO, while Sharon Baylay will become acting chair after the departure of chairman David Bernstein.

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk past a Ted Baker store on Regents Street in London, Britain December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

Page, who has been with Ted Baker for more than 20 years, recently described business conditions as the worst in decades amid lackluster sales.

His appointment as CEO in April was seen as a turning point for Ted Baker, which was trying to move on from the bad publicity prompted by Kelvin’s habit of hugging colleagues.

Ted Baker was also in the process of shaking up its board as part of a wider push to foster a change in corporate culture.

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Alexander Smith

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