Country Road Group investigates handling of sexual harassment complaints

(Source: Country Road/Facebook)

Country Road Group has launched an independent investigation into its handling of alleged sexual harassment and bullying of its staff, which the fashion retailer said it has zero tolerance for.

“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,” said a Country Road Group spokesperson.

“Having received feedback from some team members regarding the handling of their complaints, our parent company, Woolworths Holdings Limited [a South African company unaffiliated with Australia’s Woolworths group], has taken prompt action, including the commissioning of an independent investigation to look into this matter.”

The action follows allegations of sexual harassment and bullying treatment from former Country Road chief supply chain officer Rachid Maliki, according to a report in The Australian.

In addition, the staff complained of workplace bullying against former GM of sourcing and product development Mehmed Mustafic, The Australian reported.

Maliki left Country Road Group in February after 19 months in the role, while Mustafic exited in March after serving the company for 10 months.

Both executives previously worked at RM Williams with then-boss Raju Vuppalapati, who became CEO of Country Roud Group in 2021. There have been no allegations made against Vuppalapati.

In March, Roy Bagattini, CEO of Country Road Group’s parent company Woolworths Holdings, travelled to Melbourne from South Africa to hear the complaints first-hand, according to The Australian.

The findings of the investigation are expected to be shared with Country Road Group team members in June.

Country Road Group owns the fashion brands Country Road, Mimco, Witchery, Trenery and Politix.

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