Julian Dunkerton narrowly wins vote to rejoin Superdry board

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Superdry
// Julian Dunkerton narrowly wins proxy vote to be re-appointed to Superdry board
// Former Boohoo chair Peter Williams also narrowly wins vote for a spot on the board
// Vote results unlikely to change when Superdry holds shareholder meeting later today
// Superdry had called for an EGM to settle dispute with co-founder Dunkerton

Julian Dunkerton is on track to regain a position on Superdry’s board of directors after narrowly winning a vote that could trigger a wave of resignations among current management.

Dunkerton, one of the co-founders of the fashion retailer, has been grabbing headlines in recent months over his comeback ambitions in the wake of a string of lacklustre trading updates.

He had resigned from Superdry’s board in March last year, but retained 18 per cent of shares in the company.

Dunkerton won the proxy votes cast ahead of a shareholder meeting today with a narrow majority – 50.75 per cent voted in favour of his return.

Peter Williams, the now-former chairman of online fashion retailer Boohoo, is also set to become a director after he gained 50.74 per cent of proxy votes in his favour.

Final votes will be cast at a meeting later today, but Superdry chairman Peter Bamford said it was unlikely to change the outcome.

He added that when the final vote is cast, he would hold an emergency meeting with Dunkerton and Williams to discuss a way forward.

The current board of Superdry had previously urged shareholders to reject Dunkerton’s return, saying it would be “extremely damaging” for the retailer.

They also threatened to resign en masse if Dunkerton won today’s vote.

Speaking to shareholders today, Dunkerton he did not expect the whole board to resign and was happy to work with those not committed to the current Superdry strategy.

He added he would be willing to act as chief executive should Euan Sutherland resign.

Dunkerton has been a vocal critic of Superdry’s management for several months, claiming that its current strategy was not working.

Last month he said the fashion retailer’s management, led by Sutherland, had presided over a “catastrophic decline”.

“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,” Dunkerton said in a statement.

He also promised shareholders that if he won a position on the board again, he would work to restore double-digit percentage operating margins and rebuild profitability in two to three years.

He also promised not to sell his shares in Superdry for at least two years.

Dunkerton’s comeback campaign was done with the support of co-founder James Holder. Together the pair own 29 per cent of Superdry’s shares.

In the days leading up to today’s shareholder vote, investor advisory firms PIRC and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) both recommended investors to vote against the shake-up.

ISS said the reason for Superdry’s decline was Dunkerton’s decision-making when he had been a member of its senior management team.

However, other major City firms such as Investec Asset Management, Schroders and Spanish bank BBVA expressed voting in favour of Dunkerton.

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