High Street

Former Clarks CEO launches legal battle over misconduct claims

The former CEO of shoe retailer Clarks has launched a legal battle against the company, after he was ousted last year following “conduct, conversations and expressions fell short” of company expectations.

According to the Sunday Times, Mike Shearwood claims he was ousted on “trumped-up charges” of racist and sexists comments, after he attempted to “expose mismanagement” at the company.

He has now brought the case against the retailer’s parent company, C&J Clark, to an employment tribunal.

However, a spokesperson for Clarks said the company “rejects all allegations raised by Shearwood” and “stands by [its] decision in relation to [his] termination”.

They added: “It is Clarks’ firmly held belief that Shearwood is fabricating a frivolous and vexatious narrative surrounding his time at Clarks purely with the intent of eliciting a termination payment from the business.

“Clarks made it clear at the time of his departure that his behaviour was such as to warrant no compensatory or notice payment. Clarks hopes the Tribunal will agree with us and see Shearwood’s claim for the tactical device it is. This is a calculated attempt to damage the Clarks business and its reputation.”

In June of last year, Shearwood resigned “following an investigation into complaints that breached the company’s code of ethics on a number of occasions”.

Shearwood originally joined the retailer as chief executive back in 2016 from women’s fashion retailer Karen Millen. At the time of his appointment the position had been vacant for over a year after his predecessor Melissa Porter left with immediate effect following a marked drop in profits.

At the time, Clarks did not confirm exactly what part of its code of ethics he was found to be in breach of. A statement said: “Clarks confirms its CEO has resigned following an investigation into complaints of conduct contrary to the family owned company’s Code of Business Ethics.

“Clarks recently learned that aspects of Mr Shearwood’s conduct, conversations and expressions fell short of the behaviours expected of all its employees on a number of occasions. In these circumstances the board has accepted Mr Shearwood’s resignation.”

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