Superdry has been a British retail phenomenon. In under a decade, the brand went from its first store in Covent Garden to a huge multi-storey flagship on London’s Regent Street.
Established by James Holder and Julian Dunkerton, the Superdry name first appeared in 2003. It has been an unstoppable juggernaut since then, racking up yearly sales of over £750 million (2017) and operates in 55 countries.
Left - Superdry went from a single store to a huge Regent Street flagship in under 10 years
At the beginning of this year, the remaining founder, Julian Dunkerton, announced he was stepping down from the company. In a statement, Mr Dunkerton said he had “other demands” on his time, and stepping down was “the right point for me to transition my focus and responsibilities”. Handing the reins to new Superdry chief executive Euan Sutherland, Dunkerton bowed out quietly until this October when Superdry issued a shock profit warning blaming warm weather and bad foreign exchange hedging. Shares in the group crashed 20%.
Dunkerton has been vocal in his disagreement with the direction the company is heading in, saying, “I cannot sit back and watch my shareholding — and those off all the pensions invested in the company — be dissipated”. He’s trying to gather other shareholder support to return to and steer the company in his direction, but, have they got their strategy wrong or has the Superdry brand simply peaked and run out of steam?
Mat Heinl, CEO at global creative business Moving Brands, an independent, global creative company, says: “It has become unclear who Superdry is for and it feels like its brand and purpose has been entirely lost.
“There, now, seems to be a clear disconnect between what made the brand successful and its core base of customers. With the mid-market being hit hard by competitors, brands like Superdry fall into a sea of sameness,” says Heinl.
The strategy in question has been Superdry’s move into fast-fashion. In September, Superdry hired Brigitte Danielmeyer as its new chief product officer to launch a new fast-fashion range called "Superdry Preview”. Formerly Tommy Hilfiger’s global head of womenswear, Danielmeyer, leads the new Superdry Preview label aimed to attract a “younger, more fashion-driven” customer through limited-edition capsule collections. The range will go from design to delivery in just six weeks and be supported by a social media campaign targeted directly at 16 to 24-year-olds.
Yet to be tested, with no results yet for these ranges, Dunkerton thinks it’s a mistake for Superdry to move into the competitive fast fashion arena. He thinks Superdry should stick with fewer, core ranges in store and massively increase the designs and varieties (known as SKUs) being sold online.
“Last Christmas we were at a point where we could hit fast fashion online. We were such a strong brand that we could really increase our SKU count. But they [the new management] did the reverse.
“If you put that product online you would expand brand awareness and create excitement online while combining it with the classic store base.” he said.
Not everybody disagrees with the fast-fashion approach. Natalya Johnson, Marketing Manager, Shopest, who create location- based shopping experiences helping “independent stores to stay vibrant, profitable and nearby”, says “Early on the brand appealed to their target demographic which at the time was young men and women aged around 16-30.
“Over time, their consumer has changed, developed new interests and shop in a new way. Although brand identity is strong, the brand has failed with adapting into the fast fashion cycles, meaning their products seem to be outdated,” she says.
“Superdry are beaten by big brands such as ASOS and Zara, who not only offer consumers constant variety, but also a difference of style.
“Superdry do have great potential to revive the brand, tapping into current trends in the fashion industry that would attract their ideal consumer. It seems that they keep missing the mark in trends that would complement the brand e.g. streetwear and also brand collaborations.
“Once the product becomes more relevant, the brand can offer new innovations in store and develop stronger marketing strategies. In conclusion, Superdry appear to be very stagnant at the moment, but definitely have the potential to make things right,” she says.
The shares now sit at roughly 780p. They began the year above 2000p. The October profit warning said it expected to make £83 million in profit this year, well shy of the near-£110 million expected.
Superdry is heavily reliant on sales of heavy winter items such as jumpers and jackets, making 45% of annual sales. It said “unseasonably hot weather” in the UK, Europe and the east coast of the US was hitting sales.
“Superdry is a British phenomenon who’s growth has been nothing short of miraculous,” says Anthony McGrath, Lecturer and Editor-in-Chief of Clothes-Make-the-Man.com.
“In their heyday, celebs galore were spotted in their trademark casual wear and they set up home in a huge flagship emporium dedicated to all things Superdry on the retail Mecca of Regent Street. BUT! They have rested on their laurels and the whole nature of the beast, that is fashion, is that it changes at a break neck speed. Tastes, styles, trends change and unfortunately Superdry haven’t. So, yes, I do think Dunkerton is right,” he says.
Right - Is Superdry too reliant on coats and jackets?
Dunkerton, who retains an 18.5% stake, said “The management team remains hell-bent on their strategy, publicly supported by the chairman; but the numbers and the market warnings speak volumes. It is very clear that the company needs to change strategic direction; I have a clear and simple plan to correct the problems, and I have been explaining my plan to shareholders over the last couple of weeks.
“This company and brand has such a great opportunity - we must grasp it now,” he said.
This added pressure onto the Superdry management comes at a time when the retail landscape is looking schizophrenic. Long one of the darlings of the British retail scene, could this just be a case of the brand losing momentum and consumers growing tired of the Superdry brand regardless of the strategy? Has the ubiquitous Superdry branding reached its zenith, and, regardless of what the brand does, exponential growth can’t go on forever?
“Another challenge for brands like Superdry is the rise in people turning away from highly disposable and consumerist brands as they become aware of the massive pollution and poor working conditions associated with those brands which emphasise profits over ethical business practices,” says Heinl.
“To claw back momentum, Superdry, and other struggling brands, could do a number of things to help them stand out in a crowded marketplace. They could become a champion of sustainable fashion, improve and showcase high quality products, define a distinct design direction or take a leadership position in improving supply chain transparency and quality,” he says.
Dunkerton said, “My model means less wastage. It is far easier to manage and you have lower stock risk.
“There are too many products in the stores with short shelf life. You shouldn’t try and change it all the time. Get the product right and be confident in it. There’s no reason a jacket in October shouldn’t stay until March. Now, you see jackets on sale already. Can that be right?” he says.
Shareholder Aberdeen Asset Management is supporting current management, saying Dunkerton left after multiple profit warnings. Superdry chief executive Euan Sutherland has said “it will take up to 18 months for the benefits to come through” and Superdry chairman Peter Bamford said: “The Board of Superdry has huge respect for Julian Dunkerton as an entrepreneur and founder of the business. Julian has raised a number of issues with the board regarding strategy since he left the business. We have reviewed and discussed these issues and, while we have sympathy with some of his points, we have a different view on the best strategy or approach to addressing them.
“Superdry is an ambitious, global, multi-channel brand and the Board believes that Julian’s view of strategy has not evolved with the needs of the business. We remain fully committed to our successful global digital brand strategy and the board is confident that Superdry has in place the right leadership to ensure the continued development of our highly relevant brand.”
The management will have to start seeing the fruits from this new strategy and fast, otherwise shareholders will push for change. The next set of results will either quieten Dunkerton or add fuel to the fire for a reversing of the company direction. Superdry is too reliant on coats and jackets, but this has also helped them grow to the size they are. Regardless of strategy, what if consumers are simply bored with Superdry? That’s going to be an even harder job to fix.
The relationship with your winter coat is a long - okay, well, a good few months, - and close one. Your sartorial significant other, choosing and committing to a style isn’t something to be taken lightly. So, lucky then, Superdry has a Tinder-like amount of choice, this season.
From lightweight bombers to full on “Everest” parkas, Superdry has the full range of jackets to suit every situation and climate.
Left - Superdry - Sport Power Down Hooded Jacket - £114.99
Traditional denim jackets have been given a modern twist with Superdry varsity badges, and “Sherpa” linings. For something more formal, they have a smart double breasted wool coat, while “Rookie” styles have the addition of military-style fastenings and adjusters, plus practical pockets, to add functionality. With offerings across a palette including “duty green" and “bullet grey”, the fleece-lined styles and detachable faux-fur trimmed hoods will ensure they keep you warm.
Right - Superdry - Limited Edition Flight Bomber Jacket - £99.99
Parkas, from heavy duty to cocoon puffa, camo print to glacier, will cope with the most intense of winter extremities, plus the addition of a luxury, high performance premium down option for the very first time.
Superdry’s signature wind-cheater jackets have been rebranded for AW17. Options include totally fleece-lined arctic styles, colour pop zip jackets with triple layer fastenings and microfibre wind-bombers with faux-fur detailing. These essential and easy-to-wear outdoor jackets come in a rainbow of colours to fit your personal style.
It's now time to make your outerwear mind-up. Decisions, decisions!
See the full collection here https://www.superdry.com/mens/jackets
Left - Superdry - Faux Fur Trimmed Everest Coat - £129.99
Right - Superdry - Remastered Rogue Trenchcoat - £124.99
*Sponsored by Superdry
One of the success stories of the British high-street over the last decade, Superdry, knows how to do summer. Known for their statement T-shirts and relaxed cargo shorts, this is carefree menswear to blow out those partying cobwebs.
This summer Superdry are all over holiday vibes, but forget the beach- we all know the real fun starts when the night kicks in. Running down side streets to unplanned parties and night swimming, those warm holiday nights are the best.
The men’s collection features tropical prints, graphic tees, vests and swim shorts, alongside flip-flops and sliders in a variety of colours. Follow the story here
Where will your holiday nights take you? #TheNightIsYoung
Left, Right & Below - Get holiday ready & own the whole night in Superdry Holiday SS17
See the full video below
A man’s style can be very much dictated by body shape, but we don’t see a lot of guidance when it comes to what would look best on which body type. Women, however, get to compare themselves against hourglasses, pears and apples and discern which shape relates most to them - before receiving guidance on what would look best on each. Guys have to work it out for themselves.
However, clothing retailer Superdry has decided to put together an in depth guide around body shape and jacket style – perfect as autumn arrives and we go out to make those important investment purchases for the colder months.
You may not be familiar with the terms 'inverted triangle', 'oval' and 'slim curve' when considering your body shape, but all will become clear in the guide below. Learn what looks best with a bomber jacket, how a long trench coat can create a slim lined look and why a pea coat looks best on those who hit the shoulder press at the gym and pick out a jacket perfect for you.
Brought to you by Superdry
When William Webb Ellis first picked up that ball, and ran with it, little did he know that nearly 200 years later 20 international teams would be competing for a cup named in his honour.
Left - Superdry - World Legends - England £74.99
The Rugby World Cup returns home to England, this autumn, in what will be one of the sporting highlights of the year.
TheChicGeek says "Rugby style, particularly the rugby shirt, never really goes out of style. Whether in team colours or bold stripes, it was a favourite of artist David Hockney and was heavily referenced by John Ray, Creative Director at dunhill, at both his spring and autumn 15 collections."
Right - A little of bit of retro inspiration - David Hockney sporting a striped rugby top
The Rugby World Cup runs from 18th September - 31st October 2015 and here are TheChicGeek's picks of the best rugby inspired menswear available:
Below - dunhill - AW15 catwalk collection - Yellow Soft Cotton Rugby Shirt - £230
Left - Polo Ralph Lauren - Custom-Fit Striped Rugby Shirt - £230
Below - Jack Wills - Striped Rugby Shirt - £49.50
Left - Jack Wills - Rugby Ball - £16.50
Left - Thomas Pink - Rugby Cufflinks - £69
Left - Thomas Pink - Stanford Knit Rugby Jumper - £225
Middle - The Rugby Fragrance - 100ml - £24.99
Below Right - dunhill - AW15 Catwalk Collection - Brown Cotton/Cashmere Rugby Polo - £625