Seeking return to the board, Superdry founder calls for investor meeting

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a Superdry fashion store in Berlin, Germany, March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

LONDON (Reuters) – Julian Dunkerton, the founder and former boss of British fashion group Superdry, has requisitioned a shareholders’ meeting in an attempt to force a return to the company’s board after a raft of profit warnings sent its shares plummeting.

Dunkerton and Superdry’s co-founder and former brand and design director James Holder, who together own almost 29 percent of the firm’s equity, also want to place Peter Williams, an industry veteran who is the current chairman of online fashion retailer Boohoo, onto the board.

Superdry, whose main products are sweatshirts, hoodies and jackets, has issued a string of profit warnings, the latest in December, and its shares have slumped 68 percent over the last year. It is led by Chief Executive Euan Sutherland.

Dunkerton, who owns 18.4 percent of the shares, left the business a year ago because he could not “put his name to the strategy”. He particularly does not agree with Superdry’s product and internet plans.

Last April Superdry launched an 18-month product innovation and diversification programme, aiming to reduce its over-reliance on cold weather clothing by entering new areas such as children’s clothes.

It has since reported “early progress” with that plan and has resisted Dunkerton’s efforts to return as director of brand and product.

“Since I left the board in March 2018, the company and the brand have been devastated through a misguided strategy,” Dunkerton said in a statement on his ‘’ website.

“Having exhausted all other options for a constructive and consensual solution with the board, we have been left with no option but to requisition a general meeting to put the question of my return to the board… to a shareholder vote,” he said.

In response Superdry said it did not want Dunkerton back.

“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,” it said.

The company added that it did not think Williams could ever be an independent director given the context of his proposed appointment.

Superdry has 21 days to say when the shareholders’ meeting will be.

Shares in Superdry were up 2.9 percent at 1602 GMT, valuing the business at about 439 million pounds ($580.80 million).

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton and Jan Harvey)

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