- Shaun Wills, CFO of U.K. retailer Superdry, will step down from his position at the company effective March 31, according to a Friday announcement, the fourth finance chief to depart from the troubled retailer in five years.
- The Cheltenham, England-based company appointed retail veteran Giles David, who recently worked at convenience store operator McColl’s Retail Group, as interim finance chief. David will join the company effective Jan. 29, and Superdry anticipates he will be appointed to the board effective April 1, according to the announcement. Wills and David will work to ensure an orderly transition.
- News of Wills’ departure comes as Superdry warned of continuing economic challenges after reporting slumping holiday sales as part of its half-year update for fiscal 2024, also released Friday. “Christmas trading proved challenging, and we do not expect market conditions to get any easier in the near-term,” Founder and CEO Julian Dunkerton said in a statement included in the update.
Wills is departing the company as it struggles to reignite consumer interest in the brand, which offers American vintage-inspired clothing and other goods. Recent years at the retailer have been marked by turmoil such as its CFO revolving door, which ultimately left Wills in the finance chief role for a second span in 2021.
Wills previously served as Superdry’s CFO for a three-year period from April 2012 to March 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile, before leaving to take on executive roles at companies including Style Group Brands and fellow U.K. retailer Marks and Spencer.
He returned to take on the top financial seat in April 2021, replacing interim CFO Benedict Smith. Smith, meanwhile, assumed his interim position after CFO Nick Gresham left Superdry in October 2020, having taken over the chair from Ed Barker in 2019, according to a report by the Guardian.
The CFO swaps occurred amid numerous other crises, with CEO and founder Dunkerton himself leaving the brand in 2018 due to a disagreement with others in management before returning in 2019, according to a 2022 report by Forbes. Back in the top executive seat, Dunkerton worked to return the company to profitability after prior losses, but warned that its debt portfolio as well as murky macroeconomic conditions still left Superdry’s future uncertain, according to Forbes.
Wills’ successor David is the latest player in the game of CFO musical chairs, with the company looking to lean on David’s past experience as it works to reverse a trend of declining performance.
David has a “strong track record in consumer-facing businesses where he has operated successfully in turnaround environments,” the company said in its Friday release.
David served as CFO for McColl’s Retail Group, a U.K. convenience store operator owned under the Morrisons brand, from June 2020 to November 2022, according to his LinkedIn page. In 2022, Morrisons paid approximately £182 million to take over McColl’s in a last minute rescue deal, the Financial Times reported.
Superdry has continued to see sales decline in the first half of 2023 in what is “clearly been a difficult period” for the business, Dunkerton said in a statement included in its H1 2024 update, which covers the period ending Oct. 28 and also provides a trading update for the 12-week period ending Jan. 20.
Challenging market conditions led to 10.2% year-over-year decline in Superdry’s retail segment sales for the period, according to the update. December saw the largest drop in U.K. retail sales since the days of COVID-19 lockdowns, the company said, which, combined with subsequent heavy discounting and milder weather, all impacted its retail performance.
The impact of the macroeconomic factors were exacerbated by underperformance in Superdry’s wholesale business, Dunkerton said.
“Whilst, to some extent, this was expected due to the decision to exit our US operations and the sale of the brand rights in non-core territories, the segment continues to prove challenging,” he said of wholesale.
Superdry has begun talks to sell its brand rights in the U.S. and the Middle East in a bid to shore up its faltering finances, according to a report by the Telegraph.
Superdry did not respond to a request for comment.