Julian Dunkerton, the co-founder of Superdry, will on Wednesday pledge not to sell his stake in the embattled fashion retailer for at least two years if he succeeds in a bid to return to its boardroom.
Sky News has learnt that Mr Dunkerton, who has become embroiled in an increasingly bitter fight with the chain’s management, will outline the commitment to retaining his 18% shareholding as part of a formal response to the company.
A source who has seen Mr Dunkerton’s letter to shareholders, which was sent to Superdry on Tuesday, said it would accuse the board of presiding over the destruction of £1.2bn of shareholder value during the last year.
An extraordinary general meeting has been scheduled for early April to vote on Mr Dunkerton’s campaign, with the current board threatening to quit en masse if he is successful.
The implication of Mr Dunkerton’s pledge to retain his shareholding for two years if he is successful is that he may seek to sell the stake if he fails in his bid.
Alongside James Holder, Mr Dunkerton co-founded Superdry in 2003 before floating it on the London Stock Exchange seven years later.
Known for its hoodies and jackets, Superdry had been a success story on the high street for more than a decade.
However, Mr Dunkerton stepped down in March 2018 amid what both sides agree was a dispute about the company’s product design and international expansion strategy.
Mr Holder, who owns 9% of Superdry, is supportive of his co-founder’s bid, while the retail veteran Peter Williams has been nominated as an independent member of the company’s board.
Mr Dunkerton has launched a website, www.savesuperdry.com, to galvanise support for his re-election campaign.
Superdry delivered a scathing verdict on Mr Dunkerton’s tenure earlier this week, despite the fact that its shares have collapsed by roughly 75% since his departure.
In a statement on Monday, Superdry said that Mr Dunkerton had had “prime responsibility” for its failed autumn/winter 2018 range, which the co-founder denies.
It also said that if he returned to the company, it would have “damaging business impacts”, including a failed strategy and the “reintroduction of a leadership style that does not fit within the open-minded collaborative culture, values and operation of the company”.
Superdry, which recently disclosed plans to cut several hundred jobs, insisted that none of its major institutional investors had voiced support for Mr Dunkerton’s re-election to the board.
Mr Dunkerton is expected to point out in Wednesday’s response that the chain’s board and management collectively own just 0.25% of its shares.
A spokesman for Mr Dunkerton declined to comment, while Superdry could not be reached for comment.