Superdry founder says product-cutting strategy is wrong in web era
Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton has launched another attack on the brand’s current management and business model. Ahead of its interim results announcement, due on Wednesday, Dunkerton told Liberum analyst Wayne Brown about his concerns.
He told Brown, who used to be head of investor relations at Superdry, that he left in March as he didn’t want to be associated with the current strategy and added that a focus on cutting the product range was wrong at a time when e-shopping allows businesses to offer a wider range through their webstores.
“The interaction between stores and the internet is going to be so fundamental to the future of retail,” he said. “Consumers have adopted the internet and, by doing so, have moved away from the limitations of the high street and towards a world of unlimited choice. The premise here is if one does not participate in this world you will get left behind.”
He said Superdry had always expanded, even when the wider market was struggling to do so and “now is the perfect storm”.
Dunkerton had been CEO until 2014 when he moved to a more brand-focused role and despite leaving earlier this year, he still owns 18% of the firm’s shares so his views carry a lot of weight. His shares are sharply down in value already this year.
Dunkerton hadn’t commented publicly about the company immediately after his departure, but its profit warning in October saw him saying he was willing to return to the firm in any capacity. Since then he’s been talking to shareholders about his worries over the path CEO Euan Sutherland is taking and has even hired a PR firm.
Superdry's board hasn’t commented on his latest move but has previously said it disagrees with his views and continues to support Sutherland.
The retailer has 246 stores and while the UK is its key market, only 102 of those locations are in Britain.
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