The bitter boardroom battle at Superdry escalated once again this evening amid reports that co-founder Julian Dunkerton has hired lawyers to warn the company against making allegedly defamatory statements about him to shareholders.
According to Sky News Dunkerton, whose audacious attempts to return to the retailer's board will be voted on at a crunch investor meeting tomorrow, has drafted in law firm Debevoise & Plimpton in his latest move against the company's directors.
Superdry’s chairman Peter Bamford and chief executive Euan Sutherland have reportedly been issued a warning by the law firm for allegedly citing Dunkerton’s behaviour during his tenure at the troubled retail group in an attempt to sway investors ahead of the vote.
"Trying to fling mud and defame Julian’s character is pretty shocking…it shows they’re rattled," one source close to Dunkerton told City A.M.
The news marks a final public row ahead of tomorrow's meeting, where investors will decide whether Dunkerton and former Selfridges director Peter Williams should be allowed to rejoin the company, despite the current board urging investors not to allow them back.
Major shareholders Investec Asset ManManagement and Schroders are expected to be backing Dunkerton’s return to the fold, but Aberdeen Standard Investments has thrown its weight behind the current board.
The vote comes after months of heated public disputes between Superdry’s directors and Dunkerton, who has repeatedly hit out at the company after seeing the value of his 18 per cent stake in the firm fall by roughly £250m in 2018 amid a spate of profit warnings.
Last week Dunkerton told City A.M. that he had been receiving a "very positive response from the shareholders that we’ve met and have received multiple pledges of support."
However, his chances of winning over investors suffered a setback weeks earlier when shareholder advisory firm ISS slammed the co-founder’s attempt to reinstall himself, saying that Superdry’s current woes were at least partly the result of Dunkerton’s own decision-making.