The hiring of retail executive veteran Nick Gresham as Superdry’s new chief financial officer looks like a savvy move on the part of Julian Dunkerton.
Gresham will join the fashion retailer on an interim basis, plugging the gap left by Ed Barker who resigned along with the vast majority of Superdry’s board including chief executive Euan Sutherland after Dunkerton and Peter Williams seized control of the business last month.
With the best part of three decades’ retail experience behind him working for household name brands including Debenhams and Homebase, Gresham won’t be phased by the prospect of walking into a volatile boardroom where a new chair and acting chief executive are about to lose four non-executive directors when their notice period expires on 1 July.
Gresham has been in his current role as CFO of online retailer Wiggle for a little under two years, prior to which he spent nine months in the same position at Oak Furnitureland. Given the transience of his recent roles coupled with his wealth of financial experience, it’s easy to see why Gresham stood out as a candidate to keep an assured grip on the retailer’s finances while Dunkerton and Williams set about their rebuilding operation, before handing over to a new CFO once the Superdry ship has been steadied.
Ever since his return, Dunkerton has put a lot of focus on talking down the performance of the business, speaking of the need to “restore” Superdry’s brand identity and” stabilise” the current situation.
The profit warning issued earlier this month served to further strengthen his characterisation of a business that has lost its way and requires rescuing and he and Williams have immediately set to work fixing the structural problems they say they have identified.
But the fact remains that Superdry has lost a great deal of institutional knowledge following the slew of resignations, irrespective of whether the strategy for the retailer was flawed.
Any business losing practically its entire board would face a period of instability and there is no guarantee the tumult is over as we wait to see whether key Sutherland hires like Paula Kerrigan, who was promoted to chief operating officer in January, and chief information officer David Hennessy have a future under the Dunkerton and Williams regime.
Gresham is first through the door to help with the rebuilding job. You can guarantee he won’t be the last.