Superdry sales slump raises management pressure

Superdry founder and former chief executive Julian Dunkerton

British fashion group Superdry, which has a number of stores in the Republic and the North, reported lower revenue in the Christmas quarter, blaming issues with its product range and mild weather.

Superdry, whose strategy has been criticised by the company founder, has issued a string of profit warnings, the latest in December, and its shares have slumped 70% over the last year.

The stock initially fell 4% in early trading, before recovering and rising 1.5%.

The firm has more than 500 stores and concessions in the UK, Ireland and Europe. It has four stores in Dublin, as well as Cork, Limerick and Kildare. It also has stores in Belfast, Newry and Ballymena.

Superdry’s management, led by chief executive Euan Sutherland, is under fire from Julian Dunkerton, the company’s founder and former chief executive who left the business last March but still owns 18.4% of the equity. 

Mr Dunkerton, who quit because he could not “put his name to the strategy”, wants to return to Superdry’s board and has raised the prospect of convening a shareholders’ meeting to facilitate that.

He does not agree with Superdry’s product and internet strategy and has the support of co-founder James Holder, who owns 9.7% of the shares.

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 clothing for children. 

It reported “early progress” with that plan yesterday.

Group revenue in the third quarter to January 26 was £269.3m (€308.2m) down from £273.3m in the same period last year. 

That reflected an 8.5% fall in store sales and a 0.7% decline in online sales, partly offset by a 12.7% rise in wholesale sales.

Other fashion retailers such as Next and Ted Baker fared better over Christmas.

“We continued to be impacted by the ongoing product mix and relevance issues we have previously highlighted and by the lack, until the end of quarter three and the start of quarter four, of any prolonged period of cold weather in our key markets,” said Mr Sutherland.

Reuters and Irish Examiner staff

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