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Superdry urges investors to reject co-founder's board bid Superdry urges investors to reject co-founder's board bid
(4 days later)
Superdry is calling on shareholders to reject an attempt by co-founder Julian Dunkerton to return to the board, saying the move by the former chief executive would be “extremely damaging” to the business.Superdry is calling on shareholders to reject an attempt by co-founder Julian Dunkerton to return to the board, saying the move by the former chief executive would be “extremely damaging” to the business.
The struggling fashion brand, which has posted a series of profit warnings, said it would hold a shareholder meeting on 2 April in London, following a demand from Dunkerton and James Holder, who together founded the firm in 2003.The struggling fashion brand, which has posted a series of profit warnings, said it would hold a shareholder meeting on 2 April in London, following a demand from Dunkerton and James Holder, who together founded the firm in 2003.
But the company strongly urged shareholders to oppose the return of Dunkerton, who stepped back from the business a year ago. His plan – which Superdry directors described as “a strategy that would fail” – also involves installing Peter Williams, the chairman of the online fashion retailer Boohoo, as a non-executive director.But the company strongly urged shareholders to oppose the return of Dunkerton, who stepped back from the business a year ago. His plan – which Superdry directors described as “a strategy that would fail” – also involves installing Peter Williams, the chairman of the online fashion retailer Boohoo, as a non-executive director.
Julian Dunkerton has little chance of winning round Superdry’s board | Nils PratleyJulian Dunkerton has little chance of winning round Superdry’s board | Nils Pratley
In a strongly worded statement, Superdry said Dunkerton’s return would undermine morale, lead to “dysfunctional relationships” at senior levels and cause the departures of key personnel.In a strongly worded statement, Superdry said Dunkerton’s return would undermine morale, lead to “dysfunctional relationships” at senior levels and cause the departures of key personnel.
In recent months, Dunkerton – who is the company’s largest shareholder, with an 18% stake – has been vocal in his criticism of Superdry bosses, led by the chief executive, Euan Sutherland. He has pointed to a lack of innovation in its ranges and accused management of being “out of their depth”.In recent months, Dunkerton – who is the company’s largest shareholder, with an 18% stake – has been vocal in his criticism of Superdry bosses, led by the chief executive, Euan Sutherland. He has pointed to a lack of innovation in its ranges and accused management of being “out of their depth”.
However, Superdry said it was Dunkerton that was behind many of the company’s problems. In his former role as brand and product director – the job he now wants back – the firm said hehad “prime executive responsibility for the design direction, range selection and range build of the autumn/winter 2018 range, which contributed to the company’s underperformance”. It added that he had failed to accept any responsibility for the range.However, Superdry said it was Dunkerton that was behind many of the company’s problems. In his former role as brand and product director – the job he now wants back – the firm said hehad “prime executive responsibility for the design direction, range selection and range build of the autumn/winter 2018 range, which contributed to the company’s underperformance”. It added that he had failed to accept any responsibility for the range.
Dunkerton, who is expected to issue a full statement to shareholders later this week, has claimed he had been “systematically cut out of the design process” for Superdry for “many months” before he left in March 2018.Dunkerton, who is expected to issue a full statement to shareholders later this week, has claimed he had been “systematically cut out of the design process” for Superdry for “many months” before he left in March 2018.
However, the company said it had “extensive and detailed evidence” of his involvement in the poorly received ranges.However, the company said it had “extensive and detailed evidence” of his involvement in the poorly received ranges.
The retailer warned Dunkerton’s return would be “extremely damaging to the company and its prospects”.The retailer warned Dunkerton’s return would be “extremely damaging to the company and its prospects”.
Shares in Superdry have plunged from more than £20 to 517p since last January, wiping nearly £1.3bn off the value of the business, and more than £230m off the value of Dunkerton’s stake.Shares in Superdry have plunged from more than £20 to 517p since last January, wiping nearly £1.3bn off the value of the business, and more than £230m off the value of Dunkerton’s stake.
Superdry said it had the backing of institutional shareholders for its strategy and its management team, and that none had indicated any support for Dunkerton’s return.Superdry said it had the backing of institutional shareholders for its strategy and its management team, and that none had indicated any support for Dunkerton’s return.
It accused Dunkerton of a lack of transparency, saying he was nominated as a non-executive director – requiring approval from more than 50% of investors – even though he had confirmed to the board that he wanted an executive role which would require approval from at least 75% of shareholders.It accused Dunkerton of a lack of transparency, saying he was nominated as a non-executive director – requiring approval from more than 50% of investors – even though he had confirmed to the board that he wanted an executive role which would require approval from at least 75% of shareholders.
Superdry also urged investors not to vote for Williams to join the board on the grounds that he was nominated as an independent non-executive director but would be representing the interests of Dunkerton and Holder.Superdry also urged investors not to vote for Williams to join the board on the grounds that he was nominated as an independent non-executive director but would be representing the interests of Dunkerton and Holder.
Williams issued a statement stressing his independence saying he had no prior business, family or other significant links with Dunkerton or Holder and had not and did not expect to receive any payment from them. He said he was not currently a Superdry shareholder, had never had a business relationship with the firm and had met Dunkerton only two months ago.Williams issued a statement stressing his independence saying he had no prior business, family or other significant links with Dunkerton or Holder and had not and did not expect to receive any payment from them. He said he was not currently a Superdry shareholder, had never had a business relationship with the firm and had met Dunkerton only two months ago.
Williams said he would, if elected, bring an “independent voice to the board and represent all shareholders”.Williams said he would, if elected, bring an “independent voice to the board and represent all shareholders”.
Last week, Superdry announced up to 200 job cuts at its head office as part of a £50m cost-cutting plan. At its half-year sales update in December, it blamed unseasonal temperatures for poor sales of its hoodies and winter jackets, and wants to reduce its reliance on the heavily branded items that helped make the Superdry name.Last week, Superdry announced up to 200 job cuts at its head office as part of a £50m cost-cutting plan. At its half-year sales update in December, it blamed unseasonal temperatures for poor sales of its hoodies and winter jackets, and wants to reduce its reliance on the heavily branded items that helped make the Superdry name.
The retailer wants to sell more sportswear, tapping into the athleisure trend, more womenswear and denim, and is poised to launch a kidswear range.The retailer wants to sell more sportswear, tapping into the athleisure trend, more womenswear and denim, and is poised to launch a kidswear range.
Dunkerton and Holder, who owns nearly 10% of the business and would return to designing clothes as part of their plan, are opposed to the move into childrenswear, the company said, even though nearly 200 wholesalers have ordered the new autumn-winter range.Dunkerton and Holder, who owns nearly 10% of the business and would return to designing clothes as part of their plan, are opposed to the move into childrenswear, the company said, even though nearly 200 wholesalers have ordered the new autumn-winter range.
SuperGroup Superdry
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