Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton has written to shareholders making the case for his return to the board and his ambitions to put the business back on track.
Dunkerton condemned the stance and strategy of Superdry’s current leadership, which he said had sidelined him during his last months at the business.
He maintained he had not taken the decision lightly to demand a general meeting, but his founder’s passion and insight would help restore Superdry’s fortunes.
Dunkerton wrote: “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.
“The company is in such a weakened state that it has floundered on one season’s collection, but the real issues facing the business are far more fundamental, strategically and operationally.”
He continued: “I was on the board and brand director until March 2018. The reason for my departure stems from my fundamental disagreement with the strategy adopted in Q4 2017 (the ’Global Digital Brand Strategy’). I was increasingly marginalised and largely cut out of the creative and design process from July 2017, some nine months before my departure.
“The most successful fashion companies and brands are driven, nurtured and grown by relentlessly creative and entrepreneurial founders, who understand and can anticipate evolving trends and rapidly-developing consumer tastes.”
Dunkerton added: “Requesting a general meeting has not been a decision we took lightly. It is the result of many months of trying privately to engage constructively and consensually with the current board to revive the company.
“Our proposals were rebuffed. The board members have now stated that they will all resign if we are successful at the general meeting. This compromises their independence and puts into question whether they are working for the best interests of all shareholders.”
His letter to shareholders concluded: “Let’s turn this business back around and restore the Superdry brand to its former glory! Thank you for your support.”
Superdry will hold the general meeting requisitioned by Dunkerton on April 2. He is also calling for departing Boohoo chair and former Selfridges chief executive Peter Williams to be elected to the board as an independent director and is being backed by Superdry co-founder James Holder.
He has set up a website, SaveSuperdry.com, about his campaign.
In a letter sent today, Superdry chair Peter Bamford reiterated that the board position on Dunkerton’s campaign is unchanged.
Bamford said: “The board has reviewed [Julian Dunkerton’s] statement and believes that it largely consists of points that the board has heard in previous engagements with Mr Dunkerton and Mr Holder and has already addressed in the shareholder circular issued on March 11.
“There is little new information and no clear articulation of the proposed strategy or action plan in the statement.”
Superdry 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.
“Peter Williams is nominated as an independent non-executive director where it is clear, to the board, that Mr Williams is not independent and does not represent the interests of all shareholders equally.
“The board therefore continues to unanimously recommend that shareholders vote against the resolutions for the appointment of Julian Dunkerton and Peter Williams as directors of the company.”