Is Julian Dunkerton considering a buy-out of Superdry?
The Gloucestershire-based fashion brand now plc has roots going back to a market stall in 1985 and is now worth an estimated £86 million.
But behind the seemingly successful figures lies a question over a huge loan facility and the means of repayment.
SoGlos reported in October 2022 how, following Dunkerton’s dramatic return to the board in 2019, he had at last led the firm to a return to growth with sales increasing 9.6 per cent to £609 million.
The co-founder and chief operating officer was quick to pay credit for the resurgence to the firm’s staff, but Superdry tempered celebrations with news it also needed to secure a new loan facility, stating it had used £40 million of a current asset-backed £70 million facility which was due to run out in January 2023 – with no replacement yet in place.
In a statement at the time Superdry warned that until a new facility was in place there was ‘material uncertainty’ around the going concern of the group.
In the immediate wake of the publication of its annual results there was another side story taking place, with the firm's long-standing auditor, Deloitte, tendering its resignation.
Then at the end of November 2022 it looked on the way to resolving at least one major headache confirming it was ‘in negotiations’ with specialist lending provider Bantry Bay Capital Limited to replace the existing £70 million asset-backed lending facility, but any arrangement is yet to be confirmed.
In another dramatic turn, speculation has begun that Dunkerton, who owns 23.9 per cent of the business, is in talks about a potential buyout with his share of the company being rolled into a new private business.
Despite a return to growth in 2022 share price has fallen 60 per cent in the last year, reaching a near record low on Friday, December 9.
The firm has an estimated 740 stores in 61 countries and more than 2,500 staff in the UK and Ireland.
SoGlos contacted Superdry for a comment.