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Ted Baker posts first annual profit drop since financial crisis

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Ted Baker posts first annual profit drop since financial crisis
FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk past a Ted Baker store on Regents Street in London, Britain December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo   -   Copyright  Simon Dawson(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – British fashion retailer Ted Baker Plc reported lower annual pretax profit on Thursday, its first decline since the financial crisis, as discounting and uncertainty on Britain’s high street weighed on the company.

Ted Baker, whose founder and Chief Executive Officer Ray Kelvin quit this month after misconduct allegations, said group pretax profit fell 26.1 percent to 50.9 million pounds for the year ended Jan. 26.

The company said it had come up with several strategies and contingency plans to minimise disruptions caused by Brexit, including forming a group to work with external advisers to identify key risks.

The retailer, housed in London’s “Ugly Brown Building”, said its Brexit review included a look at its regulatory compliance, trade and team members.

Ted Baker, which was founded in 1988 and has about 500 stores and concessions globally, said retail sales rose 4.2 percent to 461 million pounds including its online business, while retail sales in its UK and Europe business rose 4.6 percent to 315 million pounds.

The stock fell more than 40 percent in 2018, hurt by lower wholesale sales and retail sluggishness as consumers scaled back on spending. Ted Baker also dealt with a long and harsh winter in Europe and North America, followed by an unusually hot summer.

The end of 2018 brought more turmoil as Ted Baker announced an independent investigation into misconduct claims against its founder after an online campaign claiming to represent over 200 employees asked for an end to “forced hugging” and “a culture that leaves harassment unchallenged.”

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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