SuperGroup chief taking on the world

SUPERGROUP founder Julian Dunkerton is not a man to stay still for long. He says he will not rest until his über-cool brands are sported by trendy young things across the globe.

Dunkerton’s usual working day starts at 8.45am when he gets to the office in Cheltenham, after having taken his daughters to school and swilled down a triple espresso to get his creative juices flowing.

“I cannot operate properly until I have had my first coffee,” he says.

The retail guru, who floated his phenomenally successful SuperGroup last year, regularly updates the market on his company, whose breathtaking expansion – particularly at a time when cash-strapped consumers are reining in their spending – is something of a retail miracle.

But that’s not how the driven but affable Dunkerton sees his meteoric rise from market stall holder to darling of the City.

“I know what will sell and what the cost should be,” he tells City A.M. “There is a lot of hard work but I love this business and we can expand across the world – there is no limit.”

That expansion most recently came in the form of the of buying out the group’s French franchise partner CNC for £34m.

SuperGroup’s shares have trebled since last spring but Dunkerton – who has an estimated fortune of £170m – is in no mood to take his foot off the accelerator. The CNC deal sees Luc Clément, the founder of CNC Collections, join the UK fashion retailer as head of European franchising. Dunkerton’s constant refrain is that the people around him are key to fuelling the success.

“Luc is just like me. He is very driven and understands what has to be done. It’s the same with Chris Griffiths who runs our e-commerce business – these are exceptional people.

“My management style is that I speak to them on a daily basis but I know they are going in the right direction.”

Dunkerton says he can’t imagine doing anything else outside SuperGroup, whether in the retail sector or in any other business.

However, he admits that there are always lessons to be learned, particularly after he issued a trading statement including a warning over the price of materials, triggering a dip in the company’s share price.

“I learned an important lesson in that these things [the statement] have to be looked at more closely. We are well placed to take the cost rises in raw materials so it was a mistake to use those words – it’s important to realise the impact they will have.”

Despite his success he is still willing to learn and that, allied to his determination, are what make him a powerful operator.

The market stall in Herefordshire where he started 26 years ago must seem a long way off, but the fire in the belly is clearly still there – aided by the coffee of course.