LONDON — The Ongs have won their battle at Mulberry.
The U.K. fashion and accessories company said in a statement Tuesday that Roger Saul has stepped down as chairman of Mulberry PLC and will be succeeded by Godfrey Davis. Davis, who is currently deputy chairman and chief operating officer, will become chairman and chief executive.
As reported, Ong Beng Seng and Christina Ong, who have a 41.5 percent stake in Mulberry through a firm called Challice, had requested an extraordinary shareholders meeting in order to oust Saul. Saul, together with Mulberry’s executive board, has a 42.5 percent stake in the company.
Saul’s new title is president, and he will also be a nonexecutive director. Earlier this year he agreed to split his dual role as chairman and chief executive, and until now the firm was on the hunt for a new chief executive.
Last week, a Challice spokesman said the Ongs were unhappy with Saul’s “disappointing performance over the course of many years.” Saul, in turn, accused the Ongs of trying to wrest control of the company — which is publicly listed —without making a fair bid to shareholders.
He also accused the Ongs of reneging on their promise to roll out Mulberry stores in the U.S.
The latest Mulberry statement said Saul “has decided under the current circumstances that it is in the best interests of the company that he step down from an executive role.”
A spokesman for Challice said, “We are very pleased that this has been resolved. We do not seek control of Mulberry and the restructured management team has our full support.”
As reported, in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2002, Mulberry posted a net loss of $2.6 million compared with net income of $451,500 last year. Sales grew 8 percent to $42 million.
The company attributed the loss mainly to one-time costs such as store closures and the loss of revenue linked to refurbishment of Mulberry’s Bond Street store, which was closed temporarily.
Mulberry has had a bumpy financial performance since it went public in September 2000, swinging from booming profits at the time into declining profits — and later losses — as a result of the weakening economy and a continuing revamp of the brand.