Debevoise has successfully represented Julian Dunkerton, the co-founder of global fashion retailer Superdry, in his move to return to the company’s board against the board’s strong objection. This is one of only a handful of successful “activist” shareholder campaigns in recent UK history and one of the very few cases involving a FTSE 250 company in the past decade.
Dunkerton sealed his victory on 2 April 2019 with a 51.15% majority of shareholders’ votes in order to be elected onto the board, together with retail veteran Peter Williams, the former CEO of Selfridges and chairman of Boohoo.com. Dunkerton has taken on the role of interim CEO, whilst Williams has been appointed Chairman of the Board. The entire Board of Superdry tendered their resignations shortly after the close of the 2 April 2019 general meeting.
Superdry is a global fashion brand operating both online and in c.515 physical locations across 46 countries.
Dunkerton co-founded Superdry with designer James Holder in 2003 and was its chief executive until 2014 when he handed the role over to Euan Sutherland. The company listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2010. Dunkerton continued to be Superdry’s creative director until last year, when he stepped down following disagreements over Sutherland’s business strategy. Whilst maintaining a combined 28% shareholding in the company, Dunkerton and Holder requisitioned a general meeting of Superdry for Dunkerton to be re-elected to the board, alongside Williams. Dunkerton’s campaign was followed closely by the media in what was a high profile campaign.
The Debevoise team was led by corporate partner Raman Bet-Mansour and associate Dominic Blaxill.