Superdry following wrong path says founder and biggest shareholder
today Oct 22, 2018
Co-founder Julian Dunkerton may have stepped down from his role at Superdry, but he still has strong opinions about what’s going on at the company and said at the weekend that it’s on the wrong path, also suggesting that he won’t stay quiet if the situation continues to deteriorate.
Dunkerton, who started the company from a market stall in the mid-1980s, still owns a big stake in the firm and its recent share price fall dented his holding by £43 million.
He didn’t hold back in his criticism, telling The Sunday Times that the firm is on a "completely wrong path" after "probably the most disastrous eight months you could imagine".
Dunkerton oversaw Superdry’s stock market float in 2010 and stayed at the helm before moving to a product director role in 2014 when Euan Sutherland became CEO. He left for good in March, ostensibly to focus on other projects.
But after its profit warning of last week, Dunkerton said that the warm weather, consumer caution and currency issues that the firm blamed weren’t the root of the problem.
"I've been in the industry for 30 years and I left a brilliant business and a brilliant brand, and it's just taken a wrong direction,” he said. He added that his decision to leave was partly due to having “felt a change of strategy” that he “didn't want to be part of”.
He said that reducing product lines was a mistake when rivals were doing the opposite and added that "I just can't sit back and watch 30 years of my life be gently eroded."
While his voice is always likely to be heard because he was the co-founder, the fact that he remains Superdry’s biggest shareholder with an 18.5% stake (despite selling almost £90 million worth of shares) means he can’t be ignored.
But that doesn’t mean the company is taking his views on board. Chairman Peter Bamford said: "The board has huge respect for Julian Dunkerton as an entrepreneur and the founder of the business. Superdry is an ambitious, global, multichannel brand and the board believes that Julian's view of strategy has not evolved with the needs of our business."
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