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Coronavirus drives Superdry efficiencies

Superdry has made further efficiencies in its business model as a result of coronavirus, chief executive Julian Dunkerton told Drapers. 

“It’s enabled us to focus our minds on the here and now,” said Dunkerton. “We are advancing quickly on all sorts of fronts as a result of this and when we come back to work we will be in a much stronger place.” 

This includes “resetting the buying process and critical path management as well as store [stock] locations and warehouse allocations”. 

Buying processes will become quicker and more reactive, and the brand will continue to increase its online presence and “offer more choice online away from physical retail and use this a true testbed”. 

Dunkerton added: “We are going to create less wastages, and are able to chop millions out of our buy and still protect our sales.” 

Superdry this morning reported that revenue dipped 19.1% to £705m for the full year to 25 April, as a result of coronavirus’s impact on its fourth quarter. 

Store sales dipped 57% during the fourth quarter, with the retailer’s store estate closed since late March. However, ecommerce sales were up 6.8% for the period and have doubled year on year over the last four weeks. 

Sportswear, hoodies and comfortable joggers have been selling well and recent weeks have also seen womenswear account for around half of sales for the first time. 

The brand’s relaunch in September will, according to Dunkerton, put Superdry in a competitive position coming out of the current crisis. 

”A lot of people will be pulling back on innovating for this autumn, and for us for it to be at the forefront for this autumn will play into our hands,” he said. “We have got less stock than we did a year ago, despite what we’ve just been through [the coronavirus crisis].” 

”I have been getting the business ready to bring in the ability to react to trends. We are doing our best to manage our stock levels and trying to protect our supplier base as much as possible.” 

This includes extending payment terms, increasing discounts and rebalancing its stock intake. It has reduced the number of units of future buys by 20%.

Superdry has begun reopening stores across Europe in accordance to government guidelines. As of 6 May, the retailer had re-opened 48 stores with 130 expected to be trading by the end of May. 

Dunkerton said they are trading “slightly ahead of expectations in terms of money taken”, and are “improving every day”. 

“We’re making great learnings for what happens in our UK estate and are lucky that we’re international so can see in advance what the situation is,” he told Drapers. 

Sticking to his strategic move away from discounting prior to Covid-19, the chief executive and co-founder of the brand said Superdry will maintain its full-price stance when stores re-open. 

With 88% of Superdry staff currently furloughed, Dunkerton praised the government’s Job Retention Scheme. However, he said there needed to be more clarity around other government support. 

“While furloughing and the rates holiday have been good, there is still confusion within the banks and big businesses to understand what the Coronvirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme structure is and how it works,” he said. “We are still trying to work it out and it is several weeks old and there needs to be more clarity as all of us should be able to access it.” 


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