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Hope for the best for Superdry, or it’ll be swallowed up by Frasers

Fashion chain Superdry has warned investors that it expects to break even for the full year after suffering a hit from shipping delays, despite enjoying a boost in sales over Christmas and Black Friday (Ian West/ PA) (PA Archive)
Fashion chain Superdry has warned investors that it expects to break even for the full year after suffering a hit from shipping delays, despite enjoying a boost in sales over Christmas and Black Friday (Ian West/ PA) (PA Archive)

For the unfashionable over-50 crowd who like Superdry clobber the idea that it might disappear altogether seems more than a shame.

No one is mistaking me for a clothes horse, but it does nice fitting chinos and jackets that are smart enough to work anywhere.

When Superdry floated on the stock market in 2010 at 500p it was valued at £395 million, it had no debt, and co-founder Julian Dunkerton banked £80 million and had stock then worth another £130 million.

Since the stock is now about 10p and the company is worth £10 million that valuation now looks absurd.

This never was Dunkerton’s fault – he hired bankers to get him a price, that’s the one they got. Then he handed over to other management, who vastly exaggerated the possibilities Superdry had of becoming some sort of global lifestyle brand. (The price point is different, but see also: Aston Martin.)

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The pity about brands like Superdry is that they are stuck in the squeezed middle.

At the cheap end, Primark soars. At the top end, Burberry does well.

In the middle, Superdry, Ted Baker and the rest have a really rough game to play.

Their best bet is to be bought out by (shudders) Sports Direct, now Frasers Group, with the kit downgraded and sold for cheap.

For as long as they keep going independently, they have to cope with Next and a revitalised M&S, which is nearly impossible.

I ran this notion by Next boss Simon Wolfson the other day and he demurred – we are too focussed on retail failures rather than the winners. It is perfectly possible to compete with him if you get your act together, in other words.

Last week Superdry said it would look to cut costs and raise new equity. It is not going to be easy.

The best hope is that they muddle through for a bit and that conditions turn in their favour.

It would be mean spirited not to wish Dunkerton well.