Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton claims his bid to be re-instated at the company he left in March this year had gained momentum.
In interviews last month Dunkerton said he was seeking to return to Superdry, which he co-founded with James Holder 15 years ago, after trading had slumped in the eight months since he stood down in March leading to a profits warning.
At the time Dunkerton said he believed the group, led by CEO Euan Sutherland, was heading down “a wrong path” and questioned its strategy to reduce its product lines at a time when it should be expanding them to compete with online rivals, such as ASOS.
It has been reported that Dunkerton has met with eight of the group’s largest institutional shareholders and has hired broker Cenkos to make contact with smaller shareholders. Dunkerton himself remains the company’s largest shareholder with an 18.5% stake.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, Dunkerton said his meetings with shareholders had been positive. “I’ve had no pushback on any of the logic,” he told the newspaper. “There has been a seismic shift in understanding the opportunities this business has to offer.”
Dunkerton also met with Superdry chairman Peter Bamford last week who has previously said that while he respected Dunkerton, he did not believe his thinking had sufficiently evolved to meet the current needs of the business. A spokesperson for Superdry told The Times that the company remained “focused on delivering our agreed strategy under our talented leadership team“.
Superdry is understood to be countering Dunkerton’s efforts with its own consultations with institutional investors. The business was founded by Dunkerton and Bench founder 15 years ago.
It began as the in-house brand of Dunkerton’s Cult Clothing chain (which Dunkerton had found in 1985) but went on to become a global phenomenon in its own right and eventually the Cult brand was retired so the pair could focus on Superdry.
Superdry floated in 2010 and in 2011 it opened its global flagship store on London’s Regent Street. Dunkerton handed the CEO reins to Euan Sutherland in 2014 and stepped back to concentrate on product. He announced his departure in March saying he wanted to focus on other charitable and business interests.
It currently has more than 550 stores in 50 countries and in the year to 28 April 2018 it achieved a 22.1% increase in global brand revenue of £1.6bn while underlying profit before tax was up 11.5% to £97m. However last month it issued a profits warning saying that profits to the year to April 2019 would be £10m lower than expected due to the heatwave and foreign exchange costs. Dunkerton revealed his bid to return just days later.