With new executives in place and its founder, Julian Dunkerton, returned to the helm, the beleaguered fashion chain Superdrywill be back in the spotlight this week when it announces its full-year results – a few days later than expected.
The chain had been expected to release the results last week but had to delay them: probably the least eventful thing to have happened to the company in the last few months.
In April, Dunkerton, the company’s biggest shareholder, won a six-month battle to rejoin it, prompting the entire board to resign – including the chief executive, Euan Sutherland.
The following month, the fashion label issued its third profit warning in eight months, saying it would miss City forecasts for a pre-tax profit of £54.1m to £59.4m for the year to 27 April.
And last week it announced it was appointing two experienced figures to the board – the former Marks & Spencer finance head Helen Weir and the ex-New Look finance chief Alastair Miller.
Meanwhile, the announcement of the full-year results was postponed from 4 July to Wednesday of this week after the company said its auditors needed more time following a review of its stores.
So it has been a tumultuous period, to say the least, at the brand that shot to prominence when David Beckham wore one of its “Osaka 6” logo T-shirts on the cover of his 2005 calendar.
The company was created by Dunkerton and the designer James Holder in Cheltenham in 2003. Having handed over the role of chief executive to Sutherland in 2014, Dunkerton remained with Superdry and latterly held the part-time role of “founder and product brand director”.
However, he quit in March last year after disagreeing with Sutherland’s revamp of the business, which then led to a collapse in sales and a string of profit warnings.
With characteristic aplomb, Dunkerton said he was “probably the most experienced human being in this industry in this country as we know it” when he criticised the direction the company had been taking.
Following his six-month campaign, he was reinstated at the head of the company and started to ramp up the number of products from its range that are sold online and sought to re-establish its “strong brand identity”.
More stock was put on the shop floor at its flagship stores, including in Regent Street, London, and promotions were cut back to improve profit margins. Two-for-one deals at outlet stores have been ditched, 500 new products are planned by the end of the year and plans for a new range of childrenswear developed by the previous management have been abandoned.
There have been differing views from analysts on the business’s potential. The investment bank Liberum said that “clearing the decks can be liberating”, adding that management teams rarely get the opportunity to rebase a business. “We would advocate management take a bold and determined approach,” said a note. But the stockbroker Stifel reiterated its “sell” rating, saying: “Recent news flow points to another year of subdued growth for lifestyle brands and we remain cautious in our forecast for the coming year. The new management team has made significant promises to shareholders, but self-help activities might not be enough to counterbalance the macro backdrop and consumer weakness.”