Julian Dunkerton blasts Superdry for “weakest” performance on record

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Superdry Julian Dunkerton
(Pic credit: PA)
// Superdry under fresh attack from co-founder Julian Dunkerton
// He said Superdry’s lacklustre Q3 results were the “weakest” on record
// Also said “action must be taken now” and renewed calls to return to the board

Superdry’s senior directors have been met with fresh criticism from co-founder Julian Dunkerton, who said they have presided over the “weakest” performance in the retailer’s history.

Dunkerton, who left Superdry last year in March after 15 years at the helm, has said “‘action must be taken” after the fashion retailer’s third quarter report this week – which covered the crucial Christmas trading period – revealed a 1.5 per cent drop in revenue to £269.3 million.

The figure was driven by an 8.5 per cent drop in in-store sales to £126.8 million, and a 0.7 dip in online sales to £69 million.

However, Superdry’s wholesale sales grew 12.7 per cent to £73.5 million, which helped boost its overarching global brand revenue by 5.4 per cent to £479.6 million.

The figures have given Dunkerton fuel to once again publicly criticise Superdry chief executive Euan Sutherland and chairman Peter Bamford, amid an ongoing spat where he has been seeking a return to the board room.

Dunkerton, who still owns has a stake of more than 18 per cent in the retailer he co-founded 30 years ago, said the latest quarterly figures were “the weakest in the company’s history, are a damning indictment of Superdry’s misguided strategy”.

“The current strategy is failing dismally, as I predicted it would,” he said.

“Compared with the group’s peers, who have been exposed to the same external factors, these numbers are very disappointing.”

Throughout the latter months of 2018, Dunkerton criticised a series of “bad decisions” from Superdry’s management team and a “lack of innovation” in its ranges amid a series of profit warnings.

Superdry’s shares also dropped by around 80 per drop compared to a peak earlier in the year, and the retailer admitted to struggling with an overreliance on its jackets and coats as well as dwindling consumer confidence.

However, Dunkerton’s attempts to return to the board have so far been rejected, with Superdry also saying Dunkerton himself had signed off on some of the clothing designs he was criticising.

In addition, Superdry is pushing ahead with plans to diversify its range to denims, children’s wear and dresses so it’s not so reliant on wintry fashion, and recently appointed former Nike executive Phil Dickinson as creative director.

The retailer is also launching a review of its store estate and plans to meet a cost savings target of at least £55 million by 2022.

However, Dunkerton was still unhappy with the change of direction.

While he previously said he did not necessarily want to rejoin Superdry as chief executive, he said he would be happy to be responsible for the brand and its products.

“If you take fixtures out of stores, if you’re the only internet clothing company to reduce your product count, if you take stock out of store stock rooms, then it’s obvious: it will have a detrimental effect on your sales,” Dunkerton said.

“As shareholders, we continue to suffer unnecessary value destruction and I am absolutely committed to restoring the business and brand back to strength.

“How bad does it need to get? Action must be taken now.”

Dunkerton co-founded Superdry in 1985 from a market stall in Cheltenham and was chief executive of Superdry until 2015 when he stepped aside to oversee its product and design.

He stepped down from the board and resigned last year to focus on other business interests.

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