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Gloucestershire Business News

Dunkerton's return would be "damaging" to Superdry, say board

The increasingly acrimonious battle for control of Superdry has taken another twist.

And it's not good news for founder Julian Dunkerton's bid to return to the board after he was firmly rebuffed by those currently in charge, who believe it would be "damaging" to the company.

In a letter released to shareholders this morning, the current board have advised investors to unanimously vote against Dunkerton's return.

Stating that "Mr Dunkerton's return would have damaging business impacts" the current board have gone on the offensive, detailing five reasons why the founder should not retake a seat at the top table.

The letter said: "The Board unanimously believes that Mr Dunkerton's return to the Company, in any capacity, would be extremely damaging to the Company and its prospects.

It went on to say that his return would: "lead to a strategy that would fail because Mr Dunkerton's views have not evolved with the needs of an increasingly international multi-channel brand business.

Dunkerton's return would also "be divisive and distract from the delivery of a the global brand strategy" and "reintroduce a leadership style that does not fit within the open-minded collaborative culture, values and operation of the company.

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It would also - in the view of the current board "damage morale across the business and cause departures of key personnel, including from within the board."

The tensions have been rumbling on between Dunkerton and Superdry since the company's founder decided to stand down from the board in March of last year.

A very public spat has been played out in the media since, including in a statement last week following news of a redundancy consultation affecting up to 200 members of head office staff.

Notice was given to staff at the company's Cheltenham head office of a round of cuts because of the need to make up to £20million in cost savings.

Speaking in the London Evening Standard, Dunkerton called the news "devastating" and laid the blame firmly at the current board's feet.

"We are now seeing the human cost of a failing strategy at Superdry," he said. "Talented people will be losing their jobs. The haemorrhaging of skills will be a disaster."

"The leadership team clearly lacks any strategic vision. They are now trying to cost cut their way back to profitable growth, which is doomed to fail."

But in today's missive to shareholders, the current board batted the blame ball back into Dunkerton's court.

They called the strategy and view of Dunkerton and James Holder - who is also seeking a return to the company - as "flawed."

They even went as far to blame Dunkerton for the underperforming Autumn/Winter 2018 range, saying that it had led to the company's downturn in results for the past financial year.

Dunkerton and Holder had been in dialogue with the Superdry board about a return, but their suggestions were unanimously rejected by the current board at the end of February.

The pair - who still hold around 29 per cent of Superdry's shares - then called for the general meeting on April 2, when the vote will take place on being allowed back onto the board.

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