Julian Dunkerton launches Save Superdry as boardroom showdown nears

Julian Dunkerton Superdry
(Image credit: PA)
// Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton makes his case for a return to the board in a new letter to shareholders
// Dunkerton also launched a Save Superdry website “to maximise transparency”
// Superdry recently scheduled a shareholder meeting on April 2 to settle dispute with Dunkerton
// Dunkerton has been eyeing a boardroom comeback in light of Superdry’s recent run of lacklustre trading updates

Julian Dunkerton has written a letter to Superdry shareholders in which he urged them to elect him to the board of the fashion retailer that he and James Holder co-founded.

In the letter, Dunkerton said he would work to restore double-digit percentage operating margins and rebuild profitability in two to three years.

He also pledged not to sell his shares in Superdry for at least two years and re-iterated his plans to install himself as well as Boohoo chairman Peter Williams to the board as directors.

Dunkerton also set up SaveSuperdry.com with the aim of facilitating communication and to “maximise transparency for all stakeholders”.

Dunkerton’s letter comes just days after Superdry’s senior management responded to his requests for a shareholder meeting and scheduled one on April 2 to decide once and for all if it should welcome him back to the board.

Dunkerton had resigned from the Superdry board in March last year, although he retains a stake of 18 per cent. He and co-founder Holder have combined stake of 28.5 per cent.

Dunkerton himself has been grabbing headlines in recent months over his comeback ambitions in the wake of a string of lacklustre trading updates from the fashion retailer.

“Superdry’s share price has had a catastrophic decline over the past 12 months, driven by the company’s dismal financial performance, reflecting a failed strategy,” he wrote in the letter, published today.

“The company is in such a weakened state that it has floundered on one season’s collection, but the real issues facing the business are far more fundamental, strategically and operationally.”

He also wrote: “Superdry must return to its design-led roots. Peter Williams and I offer the board critical, deep fashion, retail and brand experience, and will be supported by James Holder’s visionary creative ability through his Design Lab consultancy.

“Peter, as an independent director, adds his extensive and successful retail experience, having served on 12 plc boards.

“Our aim is to restore Superdry to a high margin business, with strong brand recognition and a loyal customer base, to put a halt to constant discounting (48 out of 52 weeks) and to re-invigorate the ecommerce business, providing vision for this channel of opportunity.”

Superdry, whose shares slumped 68 percent over the last year, has already said it did not want Dunkerton back and has urged shareholders to vote against him and Williams.

The retailer re-iterated its position in a statement in response to Dunkerton’s letter today, whereby it said his return to the board would be “extremely damaging” to company’s prospects.

Superdry also said Dunkerton provided “little new information” and “no clear articulation of the proposed strategy or action plan”.

“The board therefore continues to unanimously recommend that shareholders VOTE AGAINST [sic] the resolutions for the appointment of Julian Dunkerton and Peter Williams as directors of the company,” Superdry stated.

When it announced the shareholder meeting date earlier this week, Superdry blamed Dunkerton for its recent underperformance as he was brand and product director responsible for designing its autumn/winter range for 2018.

“Dunkerton has failed to accept any responsibility for the autumn/winter 2018 range, even going as far as to claim he had no involvement despite extensive and detailed evidence to the contrary,” it said.

It added that there was strong institutional shareholder support for the current strategy and management team and “no support for Mr Dunkerton’s return”.

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