Fashion retailer Country Road Group hit with sexual harassment, bullying claims

Cheyanne Enciso
The Nightly
Country Road Group has commissioned an external investigation following sexual harassment and bullying claims.
Country Road Group has commissioned an external investigation following sexual harassment and bullying claims. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/ MICK TSIKAS

Fashion retailer Country Road Group has been engulfed in a sexual harassment and workplace bullying scandal, resulting in an external investigation into its handling of staff complaints.

Country Road Group confirmed to The West Nightly that its South African-based parent company — Woolworths Holdings — had commissioned an independent investigation following “feedback from some team members regarding the handling of their complaints”.

The claims are believed to include allegations of sexual harassment, unwanted touching of female staff, bullying and racism.

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“The Country Road Group takes any complaint of harassment, including sexual harassment, very seriously and has a zero-tolerance policy for matters of this nature,” a company spokeswoman said.

The findings of the investigation are expected to be shared with staff in June.

“It is critically important to us that our workplace is one where all team members feel safe, valued and included,” the Country Road Group spokeswoman said.

“In the interim, we strongly encourage all parties to avoid speculation on outcomes prior to the completion of the independent investigation.”

Country Road Group is comprised of Politix, Witchery, Mimco, Trenery and the eponymous parent. The retailer also operates its own stores and its collections are also sold in department stores David Jones and rival Myer.

The Australian has reported Woolworths chief executive Roy Bagattini visited Country Road Group’s head office in Melbourne in March to hear the complaints in-person.

In a staff email obtained by The Australian, Country Road Group chief people officer Adele Preston said there had been some recent experiences “where some team members have felt unsafe at work due to allegations of sexual harassment”.

The publication reported Melbourne-based staff have been offered access to counselling services.

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