Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton faces day of reckoning
Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton is gearing up for a crunch shareholder vote next week as his long-running fight to return to the fashion chain’s board nears a climax.
Mr Dunkerton will face an investor ballot on his comeback on Tuesday having left the board last year, but his campaign has so far failed to gain major traction.
While it is understood that one of the firm’s top three investors is now backing his return, he is likely to require the support of several more to secure his seat at the top table.
He was dealt a blow last week when influential investor advisory firms PIRC and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) both recommended shareholders reject his re-election.
Mr Dunkerton is acting with co-founder James Holder and together the pair own 29% of Superdry. They are also seeking to appoint Boohoo chairman Peter Williams as a board director.
In making the case for his return, Mr Dunkerton has argued that the retailer’s current management, led by chief executive Euan Sutherland, has presided over a “catastrophic decline” at Superdry.
The retailer has posted a string of disappointing results, including a December profit warning, which Mr Dunkerton believes is evidence that Mr Sutherland is “failing dismally”.
He claims that since January 2018, the strategy pursued by the current management team has destroyed £1.2 billion of shareholder value.
“The strategic and leadership failings at Superdry remain clear and the financial and operational impacts are obvious and profound: We know how to fix these issues.
“We continue to engage productively with shareholders, and we are hugely encouraged by the positive response to our proposals,” Mr Dunkerton has previously said.
For its part, Superdry has launched its own assault on Mr Dunkerton, branding his attempt to return to the company “extremely damaging”.
It added that his strategy would “fail”, be “divisive” and reintroduce a leadership style that does not fit within the “open-minded collaborative culture, values and operation of the company”.
The shareholder meeting to decide whether to reinstall Mr Dunkerton on the board will take place on April 2, and the company is recommending that investors vote against his return.