Shares in clothes firm Superdry slumped almost 10% after founder Julian Dunkerton narrowly forced his way back into the company, which sparked the exit of most of its board members, including top executives.
Melville Dunkerton, the former boss of Superdry, was voted back on the board by a slim margin and hours later was named interim chief executive after winning the backing of shareholders looking for a revival of the fashion group’s fortunes.
The move did not sit well with most of Superdry’s board, which had opposed his comeback. Chief executive Euan Sutherland, who has been at the helm for five years, resigned immediately. Mr Dunkerton, who owns 18.4% of the company, quit a year ago after a row over strategy.
He takes issue in particular with Superdry’s product design and internet plans.
Analysts said the resignations raised fears of more departures as the company deals with a share price that has dropped 64% over the past year following several profit warnings, the latest in December.
“We would be more concerned if we see further significant departures from the retail board and operational management teams and view the recruitment of a heavyweight CFO as a priority,” said Peel Hunt analysts.
Analysts also said short-term disruptions were inevitable as Mr Dunkerton steadies the ship and starts to enact his recovery plans, which will tack on costs as the company tries to jump-start revenue.
Mr Dunkerton and co-founder James Holder run a Save Superdry website, which highlights that Superdry lost about £865m (€1bn) of its value after Mr Dunkerton left the board.
Investec analysts downgraded recommendation on the stock to hold from buy, adding that the resignation of all but one board member left the group in a “management and strategic vacuum”.
Superdry’s board had accused Mr Dunkerton of a lack of transparency with shareholders and said his return would see directors either resign or not seek re-election.
Investec said Superdry has relied heavily on the Christmas season and an overreliance on hoodies, graphic tees, and outerwear.