Superdry’s chief executive has insisted he is the right man to turn around the struggling fashion brands’ fortunes, despite a bruising year and a sharp downturn in its share price.
“Would this company be here if I hadn’t come back? I don’t think it would. The product is getting better, the public are starting to like it, turnover has stabilised and we are getting our cost base into the right place,” Julian Dunkerton told The Sunday Times.
Dunkerton, who grew the zip-friendly brand from a small Cheltenham clothing store back in the 80s, handed over control to Co-Op’s former chief Euan Sutherland back in 2014.
But growing anger at the new bosses’ attempts to push Superdry into childrenswear saw Dunkerton – still a major shareholder – lead a successful boardroom coup that ultimately ousted him from the business in 2019.
Since his return, Superdry shares have lost 90 per cent of their value and the company had been seeking out additional funding since April.
“You can look at one thing and think it’s all doom and gloom but, you know what, Julian has been beavering away and sorting this out,” Dunkerton said, speaking about himself in third person.
He argued that many high street competitors had relied on controversial company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) to “suddenly” produce great profits.
“Pick a retailer out there that’s suddenly producing great profits. How did they achieve it? It is very easy to go out and CVA a company but I have done the decent and honest thing here. It feels like we are one of the only companies that hasn’t done a CVA!”
Regardless, Superdry still faces the problem of a sales slump, caused by the cost of living crisis eating into consumer spending.
And Dunkerton will have to shake-off ongoing skepticism in the City that he is the one to lead the company through a challenging corporate turnaround.
“If that is the one bit of pain I have to go through, with people sniping at me, then so be it. My job is to protect my company, my staff and the brand,” he said.