Superdry founder secures permanent chief executive role amid board overhaul

Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton
Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton.

Fashion retailer Superdry has confirmed founder Julian Dunkerton has been appointed as permanent Chief Executive following his return to the top job last year after a boardroom coup.

Dunkerton had held the role on an interim basis since retaking control of the business after clashing with previous executives, and his contract was due to end on 2 April 2020.

The Board also announced that Peter Williams has decided to step down from the Board and his role as Chairman in 2021. The brand confirmed the process to appoint a new Chair is already underway.

As permanent CEO, Dunkerton will build on the progress made on the reset of the business and the brand to date, and ensure Superdry fulfils its potential as a sustainable fashion brand. He is currently the largest shareholder in Superdry plc, with a 20.3% stake.

The company also confirmed the appointment of Silvana Bonello as Chief Operating Officer. In her new role she will be responsible for enhancing the effectiveness of the Company’s end-to-end operations and planning processes, business transformation, sourcing processes and corporate strategy.

Sustainability will continue to be a primary area of focus for Dunkerton and he will continue to directly oversee the progression of Superdry against its environmental and sustainability agenda.

Peter Williams, Chairman of the Board of Superdry, said: “On behalf of the Board, I am delighted to confirm Julian’s appointment as permanent CEO. Since re-joining the business last year, Julian has been driving forward the transformation of the business and resetting the Superdry brand with the launch of the AW20 range in the most challenging of times.   

With the search for a new CFO well advanced, the completed executive team will be in place early next year and so 2021 is an appropriate time for me to step down. Superdry is a world-class brand and I am proud to have played my part in its turnaround strategy and putting the foundations in place for a more successful future.”

Julian Dunkerton, Chief Executive Officer, added: “I am delighted and excited to continue as the CEO of Superdry on a permanent basis, Silvana’s appointment as COO is an important next step for the business. With Silvana joining the executive team, we now have the right operational leadership to steer the business through these most uncertain times and drive the brand reset as we seek to inspire our customers with design-led, sustainable product and engage with them through our digital channels.

“Peter leaves Superdry in a much stronger position than when we joined. For that, the Board and I are tremendously grateful, and we wish him every success in the future.”

The group has been hit hard by COVID-19 lockdowns, recently revealing that revenues for the 26 weeks to October 24 fell by 23% compared with the same period last year. But while store sales plunged 45%, online shopping revenues rose by 50% in the first half.

Andrew Wade, a retail analyst at Jefferies, cheered the move to permanently appoint Dunkerton to the helm.

He said: “Given the successful early stages of the brand reset and business transformation, culminating in the reinvigorated autumn/winter 2020 ranges, we believe the transition of Julian Dunkerton’s leadership to a permanent role is a natural and positive progression.

“The appointment of Silvana Bonello looks to add considerable operational expertise, enabling Julian to focus on product and brand.”