SuperDry PLC (LON:SDRY) founder Julian Dunkerton has vowed not to sell any of his stake in the coats and jumpers maker for two years should he return to the boardroom at next month’s shareholder meeting.
Dunkerton quit as a director a year ago over a “fundamental disagreement” about future product design and the company’s international expansion plans.
But he has been plotting his return for some months after accusing current management of adopting a “failed strategy” which he claims has destroyed £1.2bn of shareholder value since last January.
Should investors side with him at the 2 April meeting, he has pledged not to sell any of his 18% stake in SuperDry for at least two years.
Wants to ‘work constructively’ with current bosses
In a letter to those shareholders he is trying to win over, Dunkerton said the company which he co-founded back in 2003 had lost its brand identity and several of its creative talent since he left.
He added the Superdry has underperformed all its peers’ share prices as a result of falling sales both in-store and online.
Dunkerton also took a swipe at chief executive Euan Sutherland’s pay packet, noting that the retail veteran was paid £3.2mln last year despite recently launching a £20mln cost-cutting drive.
“The general meeting has been requisitioned in the hope and with the firm intention that we can work constructively with the current Board to restore the company back to growth and rebuild profitability,” said Dunkerton.
“Our interests as major shareholders are fully aligned with yours, while the Board and the management team as a group own less than 0.25%.
“I would like to see sustainable growth and value-creation which would benefit all stakeholders with a long-term interest in this business. To this end, if Peter and I are elected to the board, I will commit to not selling my shares for at least two years.”
Dunkerton’s return would be ‘extremely damaging’
Superdry’s current board, who have threatened to quit en masse should Dunkerton re-join, hit back at the co-founder’s statement, claiming it had addressed all the points raised before.
“There is little new information and no clear articulation of the proposed strategy or action plan in the Statement,” said chairman Peter Bamford.
“The board's position remains unchanged. The board unanimously believes that Mr Dunkerton's return to the company, in any capacity, would be extremely damaging to the company and its prospects.”
Unsurprisingly, Superdry is urging shareholders to vote against Dunkerton and Williams’ appointments.
Last week, Superdry bosses dismissed Dunkerton’s proposed sales strategy and criticised his leadership, while they also claimed he had “prime responsibility” for the autumn/ winter 2018 range which didn’t sell very well.
Superdry shares rose 3% to 530.5p on Thursday morning.