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Gloucestershire Business News

Shareholders told: Vote against Dunkerton's return to Superdry

With just 13 days to go until a crunch general meeting decides the future direction of Superdry, Julian Dunkerton has received a blow in his bid to return to the board.

Shareholder advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) have recommended that Dunkerton's return and the appointment of Peter Williams to the Superdry board is turned down.

Dunkerton oversaw Superdry's rise from a Cheltenham market stall to a billion pound plus operation that has stores across the planet.

He stood down from the board in 2018 over disagreements over the direction the company had taken, calling the strategy of the current board "misguided" and "devastating" to the brand.

In his statement released on www.savesuperdry.com, Dunkerton said: 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 added: "Since January 2018, the strategy pursued by the current management team has destroyed c.£1.2bn of shareholder value."

Dunkerton and founding partner James Holder still own 28 per cent of the company's shares and are now seeking a return for Dunkerton to the board.

Fashion brand expert Peter Williams, the former chairman of Boohoo, will also join the board as an independent board member under the proposal made by the founders.

However, in an advisory note to shareholders released yesterday, the ISS advised against voting for the pair to join the board - citing Dunkerton as a reason for Superdry's poor performance.

It said: "A vote against the election of both shareholder nominees to the board is considered warranted at this time.

"The company's performance has been dragged down by sector issues and warm weather in 2018, though there are other issues that would appear particular to Superdry (e.g. online sales and innovation).

"The current issues, however, seem to have at least partially arisen as a result of combined decision making by the management and Julian Dunkerton - one of the dissidents calling the EGM and also the co-founder and chief executive of the company previously."

Dunkerton and Holder issued a quick response to the ISS recommendation, saying they were "disappointed".

In a statement the founders said: "However, we acknowledge that it is extremely rare for ISS to support shareholders who propose changes in corporate strategies.

"The strategic and leadership failings at Superdry remain clear and the financial and operational impacts are obvious and profound: we know how to fix these issues.

Superdry chairman Peter Bamford

"We continue to engage productively with shareholders, and we are hugely encouraged by the positive response to our proposals."

The Superdry board, headed by chairman Peter Bamford and chief executive Euan Sutherland have already advised shareholders to turn down Dunkerton's request in a strongly-worded statement last week.

Their statement 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."

The crunch meeting takes place on Tuesday, April 2.

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