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Julian Dunkerton, back in charge at Superdry, sets out his first priorities for the business

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Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton today said that improving its ecommerce proposition and getting the product ranges right were among his top priorities for the business that he rejoined five weeks ago.

He plans to increase the online range, with a focus on full-price sales, while increasing stock in selected flagship stores, and introducing 500 new products over the first six months. At the same time, the retailer aims to reduce unnecessary promotions in order to boost profitability and the brand. 

“I am very excited abut being back in the business,” said Dunkerton, who has taken on the role of Superdry interim chief executive after being elected to the board at the company’s annual general meeting last month. “There’s a lot to do, but after five weeks, I am more confident than ever that we can restore Superdry to being the design-led business with strong brand identity I know it can be. 

“My first priority has been to stabilise the situation, and all of us in the business are putting all our energy into getting the product ranges right and improving the ecommerce proposition, which are two important steps towards addressing Superdry’s recent weak performance. The impact of the changes we are making will take time to come through in the numbers but I’m confident we are heading in the right direction.”

Dunkerton was re-elected to the board of the retailer, ranked Top100 in IRUK Top500 research, just over a year after he left the company, ostensibly to concentrate on other interests. Today’s comments came as the company reported falling sales across channels in the fourth quarter of 2018. Group revenues of £187.8m were down by 4.5% compared to the same time last year, while wholesale (-9.3%) and online sales (-3.9%) all fell during the quarter. Store sales bucked the trend, however, to grow by 2.2%. 

In the full year, to April 27, the latest figures show flat full-year sales, at £871.7m, with wholesale (+3.6%) and ecommerce (+1.6%) showing some growth, while store sales (-3.7%) were down. Today’s full-year trading statement said that online performance was affected as the retailer reduced its discounting, removing planned promotions at the end of the fourth quarter. 

Incoming chairman Peter Williams, who was also elected to the board at the annual general meeting, said: “I’m delighted to have joined Superdry. This is a fantastic British brand, and I firmly believe that with the plans Julian is putting in place it will be a great success story once again. Today’s statement shows the scale of the challenge ahead of us.  The company’s financial performance won’t be turned around overnight, but we know what we need to do, and we are wasting no time in addressing the challenges which the business faces. This includes ensuring the correct corporate governance structure and Board is in place to guide the business going forward. I believe that we are doing the right things to get the business back on top form and delivering long-term sustainable growth for shareholders.”

Image courtesy of Superdry

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