Superdry slides further on founder’s return and board walkout

Shares fall more than 11% after Julian Dunkerton forces his way back into the company

Shares in Superdry fell more than 11 per cent on Wednesday after founder Julian Dunkerton narrowly forced his way back into the company, sparking the exit of most of its board members, including top executives.

Analysts said the resignations raised fears of more departures as the company deals with a share price that has dropped 64 per cent over the past year following several profit warnings, the latest in December.

“We would be more concerned if we see further significant departures from the retail board and operational management teams and view the recruitment of a heavyweight chief financial officer as a priority,” Peel Hunt analysts said.

Analysts also said short-term disruptions were inevitable as Mr Dunkerton steadies the ship and starts to enact his recovery plans, which will tack on costs as the company tries to jump-start revenue.

‘Management vacuum’

Investec analysts downgraded their recommendation on the stock to “hold” from “buy”, adding that the resignation of all but one board member left the group in a “management and strategic vacuum”.

Shares in the business closed 7.84 per cent weaker on the day.

“The resignation of the entire board of Superdry and its two brokers following co-founder Julian Dunkerton’s narrow victory vote yesterday to return as CEO, monumental as it may be, is really only the tip of the iceberg where necessary change is concerned,” Edison Investment analyst Kate Heseltine said.

Analysts said Superdry would need to provide a clear view of the future to investors.

“From here the hard work begins to turn around the fortunes of this once darling retailer that has seen its sales and profits, and the share price, plummet over the past year,” Ms Heseltine said.

Investec analysts said Superdry had relied heavily on the Christmas season and an over-reliance on hoodies, graphic tees and outerwear, and were skeptical of Mr Dunkerton’s strategy to fix these issues. – Reuters