Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton has won his battle to rejoin the struggling fashion retailer in a move that is expected to trigger mass resignations from the board.
At the start of a meeting to decide on Dunkerton’s reappointment to the board, the company released details of votes filed ahead of the meeting which showed the founder had won support of 51.15% of voting shareholders.
Shareholders also narrowly backed the appointment of Peter Williams, the former Selfridges chief executive and ex-Boohoo.com chairman put forward by Dunkerton. He won support of 51.15% of the votes.
Dunkerton has been campaigning for several months to return to the group after quitting last year in a bust-up over strategy.
The dispute has become increasingly acrimonious and the board, headed by chairman Peter Bamford, told investors last month directors would resign en masse if he was reappointed.
While Dunkerton has blamed the management, led by chief executive Euan Sutherland, for the brand losing its way, they in turn countered that he signed off on the ranges that performed so badly.
Sutherland, a former Co-op and B&Q executive, has been trying to broaden Superdry’s appeal with new ranges such as childrenswear and fewer branded clothes.
However, that change of direction has been accompanied by a deterioration in its financial performance that resulted in a series of profit warnings at the end of last year. Superdry’s shares, which were worth more than £20 last January, are now changing hands for 554p.
Shareholders at the meeting on Tuesday expressed anger at the strategy which has led to the deterioration of their investment.
One former staff member and shareholder told the board: “You seem only interested in lining your pockets.”