Born of an inspirational trip to Tokyo, Superdry was created in 2003 by Julian Dunkerton and James Holder – who are both still the lifeblood of the brand today. With Julian as Product & Brand Director and James as Brand & Design Director, Superdry’s style values have never wavered throughout its extraordinary journey. Incredible tailoring, super-soft cotton with authentic vintage washes, high-quality fabrics and iconic hand-drawn graphics all combine to create future classics. The core ethos to offer quality, value and design is as true today as it was in the early days. Both Julian and James had extensive experience in fashion retail, so the birth of Superdry was an inevitable culmination of their respective histories. Julian founded the fashion retailer Cult in 1985, starting from humble beginnings on a Cheltenham market stall and growing the business to become a highly successful multi-brand retailer with branches across the UK, predominantly in University towns. James meanwhile created the iconic Bench clothing brand in 1992, which became the premier British skatewear brand sold globally through a wide range of different retailers.
Now sold in more than 100 countries worldwide, Superdry is a true British fashion success story with a brand DNA synonymous with intricately detailed design, premium fabrics and British tailored cuts. With its roots based within Japanese imagery and vintage American sportswear, Superdry has evolved into the most diverse British lifestyle brand with a true global reach.
From our British beginning to our Global reach, the initial collection of five t-shirts – included the iconic Osaka 6 worn by David Beckham – has grown into seasonal collections including over 500 distinctive logos.
Launched to fill a gap in the market, the brand has upheld its reputation for innovation. Menswear and accessory collections quickly grew, and in 2005 Superdry launched its first Womenswear collection. Initially mirroring the signature men’s styles, the collection has matured to include fashion-forward outerwear, denim and tailoring, alongside feminine dresses and stylish knits. In 2010, sales of the signature windcheater reached over one million. While the introduction of fragrance, premium eyewear and watches have truly transformed Superdry into a lifestyle brand. In 2011, collaboration with British classic car manufacturer, the Morgan Motor Company, gave rise to a limited-edition sports car that embodied design and authenticity.
Today, Superdry has a true global reach and a cult celebrity following. Collections of depth and style are sold via more than 400 global retail points, from Europe and Asia to the US and Canada. Opening its flagship store on London’s Regent Street at the end of 2011, Superdry earned its place among the great British retail brands. In October 2014, we announced the appointment of Euan Sutherland as our new CEO. As a business with huge growth opportunities, the need for an experienced CEO was paramount. Euan knows our business well, having been a Non-Executive Director since 2012. He brings with him the wealth of experience in international and leading retail businesses that we need to drive our next chapter of growth.
Autumn Winter 2014 saw the launch of Superdry Snow – a range of high-performance technical ski and snowboard wear. With Superdry Sport new for Summer 2015 and the Idris Elba + Superdry collaboration launching in Autumn 2015, the brand takes its design excellence and fearless attitude into new territory.
With exciting global expansion planned with bold collections pushing the brand forward each season, Superdry’s status as one of the world’s most aspirational and innovative lifestyle brands will continue to soar.
Superdry is a casual lifestyle fashion brand, and is owned by SuperGroup plc. Superdry focuses on high quality fashionable menswear, womenswear and accessories, fusing vintage Americana and Japanese graphics with a British style. Our clothes are characterised by quality fabrics with authentic vintage washes; unique detailing; world-leading hand-drawn graphics; and tailored fits with diverse styling. We design absolutely everything we sell in-house.
We have historically targeted the younger end of the fashion market, designing fresh, innovative, affordable, premium quality clothing, footwear, accessories and cosmetics. However in addition to our strong brand presence with this younger demographic, we are increasingly appealing to a much broader age group as we develop the breadth and nature of our products.
Superdry operates a multi-channel business through a combination of standalone owned stores, outlets, franchised and licenced stores, concessions, shop-in-shop stores, ecommerce, and UK and international wholesale. Our global headquarters are based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. We also have satellite offices in Brussels, Barcelona, Munich and Istanbul.
Founded in 2003, we have grown to a portfolio of 98 owned stores and 40 concessions in the UK & Ireland, and 70 owned stores and 15 concessions across Europe. We opened 28 owned stores in 8 countries during the 2014/2015 financial year, totalling an additional 82,000 square feet of trading space. We also have 221 franchised and licensed Superdry stores in 69 countries worldwide, and operate 25 international ecommerce websites, delivering to 169 countries. We now employ in excess of 3,900 people globally.
Our ambition for growth was proven at our 2014/2015 year end results as we announced a 12.9% rise in revenue to £486.6m and a 2% rise in underlying profits to £63.2m. Retail revenues were up 17% while like-for-like retail sales were up 4.8%. 18.2% of our retail sales are now generated online. Wholesale revenues rose by 4% to £152.5m.
Following the appointment of Euan Sutherland as CEO in October 2014, we have developed and launched a new long-term strategic plan focusing on three key areas - to build a global lifestyle brand; to drive awareness of the breadth of the Superdry range; and to build a broad cross-channel relationship with customers. As our product is at the very heart of what Superdry is all about, we are also focusing hard on our four key product attributes - design detail; quality obsession; innovation; and affordability.
In March 2015, SuperGroup announced the acquisition of our North American business from a former licensee, which immediately gave us an estate of 15 stores and around 250 employees, with revenues of nearly $36m. We have a structured plan in place to drive a substantial expansion plan across the US, Canada and Mexico by 2020. In July 2015 we announced the creation of a joint venture business in China, in partnership with the established Chinese retailer Trendy International, giving us a solid platform for a major entry into the Chinese market.
Finally, in another exciting development, Golden Globe winning actor Idris Elba is collaborating with Superdry to design and produce a premium line of clothing which will be sold globally in stores and online, as well as through Wholesale partnerships from Autumn/Winter 2015. This new collaboration is part of our strategy to create a global lifestyle brand, building on the iconic heritage of Superdry to broaden and strengthen customer appeal.
An Interview with Nicole Smith - Superdry’s Head of Merchandising
We talk to Nicole Smith, Superdry’s Head of Merchandising, about the company, the growth of merchandising team and the beautiful city of Cheltenham.
DR: Nicole, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Can you start by telling us about the changes that you’re making within the Merchandising team?
NS: Fundamentally, the reason why we are looking for people and increasing the merchandising resource is because we are growing so significantly as a business. If you go back 3 years, we didn’t have that many UK stores, we were a small team and we’ve grown significantly in that time and really our merchandising team now needs to expand to keep up with the level of growth.
We are opening stores in Europe at a fast pace and we are also opening more stores in the UK. Most brands are pulling back in the UK, but we’ve still got great opportunities to grow. We are only 11 years old we’ve still got big opportunities to expand both in the UK and internationally.
As a team we are centralising a lot of the merchandising of our European territories. Previously, we had people in Europe who would do their own buying and merchandising, we are now centralising that all into the team in Cheltenham. The exciting bit about that for people is that they do get involved in something that’s bigger than the UK and they get to work with our European countries and understand our European businesses.
DR: That is quite a unique proposition as a business, but also for a lot of potential merchandisers?
NS: Absolutely. We will have around 80 stores in Europe this year. Across the different countries there are different product requirements which need to be understood.
We’re also putting in better merchandising systems. Last year we put in an excellent allocation and replenishment system and an excellent reporting system. These systems have given us the ability to analyse our business much more effectively and in intricate detail. We now need people who can take that information and turn it into actions to deliver the growth we need. We are also putting in a new planning system over the next year. The team will be working on value added analysis and turning that into actions for the business.
Finally, we are very excited to be going into new product areas. We launched a ski-wear range at the end of last year, and we have just launched our new rugby range. There are lots of new product opportunities coming along that we need to get behind and make them a big part of the Superdry brand.
What’s kind of unique about our business, which pretty much no other business has, is the working relationship that we have with the founders.
DR: Julian (Dunkerton) and James (Holder)?
NS: Yes. Julian selects all the products and the Merchandising team work really closely with him to fully support his vision. He is really clear about what he wants the brand to look like, really clear about what he wants the products to look like, how he wants the stores to look and feel. The Merchandising team really do support that vision and work with him really closely. Making sure that we are backing him and we’re giving him the information, so that he can make the right decisions - whether it’s colour, price points, or style. All of the analytics that he needs to make the right decisions, the Merchandising team provide him with.
The team get to work very closely with him and get to really understand how he puts the product collections together and they tend to get caught up in the passion and enthusiasm that he has for the business and that translates all the way through the team. They love working with him. James is the most amazing designer and he and his team design the most incredible products.
DR: There are not many companies that allow you to work directly with the founders of the business!
NS: Precisely. That is one of the brilliant things about this business. I’ve been here for almost 18 months, but the great thing is that everyone is really involved in the business and there isn’t a big hierarchical structure. It’s quite a flat hierarchy and people work very closely together across different functions - we work across the sourcing team, the design team, the store teams. It’s become a big company but with a small company feel. For staff who have joined us most recently, they love the involvement that they have in so many different areas of the business.
DR: So what kind of individual would be a successful merchandising candidate?
NS: Whilst we do need people that have got great numerical, analytical and traditional merchandising skills, we also need people who have got a real passion for product and understand the commercial elements of putting great product ranges together. That is key for us.
DR: How do you separate out the Merchandising in terms of categories?
NS: At the moment, there are 3 departments – womens, mens, and accessories & footwear. We are looking to split those categories down further, so that our teams are looking after a smaller number of product areas which means that they can do a much more in depth job; working on those smaller categories right from design all the way to getting it into the stores. I think that allows them to be able to create better commercial ranges and have a much better understanding of what’s working and what isn’t working so they can better then inform the designers and store teams and become specialists of their categories.
DR: in terms of the specifics, what roles in Merchandising are you recruiting for?
NS: We need great people right across the merchandising team – from entry level Merchandising Admin Assistants up to experienced Senior Merchandisers
DR: When you’re looking for a Merchandiser, what would be the top 3 things that you would look for in a good candidate?
NS: I need good merchandise planning and trading experience, analytical and numerical skills, and the ability to balance that with a passion for the product and the ability to demonstrate commercial range planning experience
Superdry is a very fast paced environment, so it is important to be able to make good decisions quickly without necessarily having all of the information and being able to multi task on a daily basis. You’ve got to be able to work in a fast decision making business and be able to demonstrate that.
It is very important to have a team players who can work collaboratively with many different areas of the business so whether that’s stores, ecommerce, sourcing, design, logistics or finance, you’ve got to be really open to working cross functionally.
DR: What makes Superdry such a great company to work for?
NS: I think the fact that we are so involved in the business makes it so different. I think our product makes us different. Our obsessiveness around our product, our quality, our design, how we want our stores and website to look, the kind of preciousness around that - I think makes us quite unique.
We do move really quickly as a business. Our new ski-wear range, our rugby range, that all happened very fast and we have got loads more things coming down the line because we have such a fantastic design team with all of these great ideas… and also because we’re expanding so fast.
We have got a fantastic ecommerce proposition which the merchandising team have to buy for; that is just getting bigger and bigger. It’s a really fun place to work, and there is a really nice culture around the way that we work. People really support each other and want to make the business successful. I think when you see the founders where you work every day, it gives you more passion for what you do.
DR: So tell us about Cheltenham and where people are based for work?
NS: It is a really nice place to live, it has great shops, restaurants, the Cotswolds all around it, cycling, amazing country pubs. Lifestyle wise it is fantastic and loads cheaper than London so that you can massively improve your quality of life living here compared to London. We have a great jazz festival, horse racing – there is a lot going on!!
DR: What career development do you offer potential candidates?
NS: At the Merchandiser level, one of the key things we are looking for is someone who can develop the team. We have a quite lot of young people in the team who are great, they have a lot of energy and enthusiasm, and would benefit from more training and development. By having smaller areas, the more senior members of the team can then develop the more junior members of the team more effectively so that we absolutely are growing our own talent and that’s something that I feel really strongly about.
And we absolutely do want to promote from within our MAA and Assistant Merchandiser population. Our commitment with them is that we want them to move through the roles so that they can be a Merchandiser. We are putting succession plans in place and grow our own talent from within. We have done a lot of work on career pathing for Merchandising, so we have very clear progression through the merchandiser roles and are very committed to supporting career development.
We want people to feel like they’re coming for a career, not just a job!