The hiring of retail veteran Nick Gresham as Superdry’s new (interim) chief financial officer looks like a savvy move by Julian Dunkerton.
Gresham will join the fashion retailer on an interim basis, plugging the gap left by Ed Barker who resigned along with the vast majority of Superdry’s board – including chief executive Euan Sutherland – after Dunkerton and Peter Williams seized control of the business last month.
With the best part of three decades’ retail experience behind him working for household names such as Debenhams and Homebase, Gresham won’t be phased by the prospect of walking into a volatile boardroom where a new chair and acting chief executive are about to lose four non-executive directors when their notice period expires on July 1.
“Any business losing practically its entire board would face a period of instability and there is no guarantee the tumult is over”
Gresham has been in his current role as CFO of online retailer Wiggle for a little under two years, prior to which he spent nine months in the same position at Oak Furniture Land.
Given the transience of his recent roles, coupled with his wealth of financial experience, it’s easy to see why Gresham stood out as a candidate to keep a grip on Superdry’s finances while Dunkerton and Williams set about their rebuilding operation, before handing over to a new CFO once the ship has been steadied.
Ever since his return, Dunkerton has put a lot of focus on talking down the performance of the business, speaking of the need to “restore” Superdry’s brand identity and “stabilise” the current situation.
The profit warning earlier this month served to further strengthen his characterisation of a business that has lost its way and requires rescuing, and he and Williams have immediately set to work fixing the structural problems they say they have identified.
But the fact remains that Superdry has lost a great deal of institutional knowledge following the slew of resignations, irrespective of whether the strategy of the retailer was flawed.
Any business losing practically its entire board would face a period of instability and there is no guarantee the tumult is over as we wait to see whether key Sutherland-era hires like Paula Kerrigan, who was promoted to chief operating officer in January, and chief information officer David Hennessy have a future under the new regime.
Gresham is first through the door to help with the rebuilding job. You can guarantee he won’t be the last.