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Gloucestershire Business News

Superdry shares slump after Cheltenham-based fashion brand issues profit warning

Shares in Superdry lost almost one sixth of their value this morning after the Cheltenham-based fashion brand issued a profit warning.

In a 10-week trading update for the period up to January 4 - referred to by Superdry as their "peak trading period" - the company recorded a 15.8 per cent slump in sales.

Shortages of some of the new products designed by brand founder Julian Dunkerton and his team and "weaker trading" on older product lines hit the firm.

In a statement the company said: "Despite a strong Black Friday, "peak trading performance has been lower than expected as we continue our strategic transition to a full price stance.

"Over this period the high street has seen unprecedented levels of promotional activity coupled with subdued consumer demand immediately after Christmas.

"These factors, combined with shortages of some better-selling product, driven by the need to reduce our inherited inventory position, adversely impacted our sales during peak trading.

"We have been encouraged by initial customer reaction to the limited amounts of the new management team's Autumn/Winter 2019 stock.

"However, this has not been sufficient to offset weaker trading on older product.

"In aggregate these factors have led to lower than anticipated retail sales of £23m since Black Friday, predominantly online.

"Whilst we are encouraged by response to the limited ranges that we have introduced, this challenge will remain until the new design philosophy and product can be fully implemented across the entire range, with full impact expected by the launch of Autumn/Winter 2020."

Mr Dunkerton, who returned to the firm in April 2019 after a bitter boardroom battle has said that it will take time to turn around Superdry's fortunes.

Arguments over price points and designs forced his decision to return to the firm in a move which saw the then board resign en masse.

Statements since April have focussed on the firm 'resetting' and getting 'back on track' but it appears that will not happen in time for shareholders to much of a profit in 2019/20.

The statement added: "The benefit of strong gross margins and cost initiatives will not fully offset the profit impact of the aggregate shortfall in sales.

"Taking into account our revised sales expectations for the balance of the financial year, and the challenging trading environment in which we are operating, we now expect Underlying PBT to be in the range of £nil - 10m."

Reacting to the results Mr Dunkerton, who remains the firm's interim CEO said: "Everyone at Superdry continues to work intensively to deliver the turnaround of the business.

"While we have always said it will take time, we continue to make progress in implementing our strategy.

"A key element of this is to focus on and return to full price sales and reduce promotional activity, and we halved the proportion of discounted sales over our peak trading period, benefitting both our margins and the Superdry brand.

"However, this adversely affected our sales during the peak trading period given the level of promotional activity in the market.

"Despite this, our disciplined plan to reinvigorate the brand and return Superdry to sustainable long-term growth is on track."

Superdry shares, that hit levels as high as £20.40 in April 2018, were trading at 356.60p this morning, 15 per cent down on the closing price of 471.80p yesterday.

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