Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton has called on Superdry to hold a general meeting in a bid to convince shareholders to appoint him and Boohoo chair Peter Williams to the board.
The business has 21 days to announce the date of the meeting from when it receives paper copy of Dunkerton’s notice, which will then take place within a month.
Dunkerton has been a vocal critic of Superdry management since he left the business earlier this year, and still holds a 19% stake in the business.
He is seeking to become a non-executive director. Williams would be an independent non-executive director and, not being a representative of either Dunkerton or co-founder James Holder, “would bring his own voice to the board”.
Dunkerton has also set up a website, savesuperdry.com, which seeks to rally support.
There had been speculation that Dunkerton would seek to remove chair Peter Bamford and chief executive Euan Sutherland, but he has not called for either of them to stand down.
Last year was a torrid 12 months for the branded fashion retailer. It was twice forced to warn on profits, which plunged 49% at its interims, and discounted product heavily during the all-important golden quarter. It blamed its woes on poor product innovation and unseasonably hot weather.
Dunkerton said: “All shareholders in Superdry are continuing to suffer as a direct result of the current misguided strategy. We have all waited and suffered long enough: the time to act is now.
“This is why, having exhausted all other possible avenues for a constructive and consensual solution with the board, we have been left with no other option but to requisition a general meeting to put the question of my return to the board, together with the appointment of Peter Williams, to a shareholder vote. We find ourselves at a critical juncture for Superdry.
“Superdry is the only retailer in its peer group that has reported a decline in online sales in the autumn/winter 2018 season and its products have been on sale at reduced prices for 48 of the past 52 weeks. Together, we can turn things around and set Superdry back on the path to creative and operational success.”
A Superdry spokeswoman said: “The board of Superdry has had ongoing engagement with Julian Dunkerton and James Holder since Julian decided to leave the Company in March 2018, to ensure their views have been heard and understood. The board has carefully considered their proposals when they have been put forward and has unanimously rejected them as not being in the interests of all shareholders.
“The board believes that Mr Dunkerton’s views on the strategic direction of the group are directly at odds with the unanimous views of the management team and the board and therefore his return to the business would be counter-productive and highly disruptive. In terms of the appointment of Peter Williams, the board has significant reservations that he could ever be an independent director and represent the interests of all shareholders equally, given the context of his introduction.”