LONDON – British company SuperGroup is making moves to strengthen their brand presence and market share in North America and terminated the 30-year licence granted to SDUSA LLC in 2008, the group’s US license partner. In a series of new initiatives, the brand also enlisted Idris Elba on a collection with Superdry. The group aims to take control of the Superdry product to build up their brand presence to create a global business.
“We are obviously taking control of what we got,” founder, product and brand director Julian Dunkerton told WWD. “In the next couple of years, we’ve gone from small stores to large stores. So, we’re actively looking for much bigger stores now because, basically the stores are too small for the current format and the range is huge, and it really hasn’t been shown in its full first light. From a wholesome business sort of perspective, we don’t feel that the American consumer has the product put in front of them in its entirety.”
The cash consideration of 22.3 million pounds, or $33.5 million at current exchange, allows SuperGroup to gain direct control of the distribution of Superdry products in North America.
Dunkerton and cofounder, brand and design director James Holder are looking to open new stores in the U.S. and are actively looking at different cities. While Dunkerton and Holder only acquired Superdry two months ago, they are researching American consumer behavior. “As we learn about the U.S. consumer, we will do special lines for the U.S. All markets will end up having more bespoke products. At the moment, we’re just learning about the American consumer, so it’s going to take a little while for us to get there. But generally speaking, we’re moving into female sport, we’ve got all sorts of things going on. We’re going to Las Vegas in August, we’re going to get feedback from the department stores and wholesaler camps. Meanwhile, we’re building on the consumer data. I think the attention to detail that they haven’t had, the stores…the ability to buy into the whole range because the previous licensing narrows down the range into a tiny offering, so the Americans have never been exposed to what we really do. They’re finally going to get to see what we do in the department store level combining to the whole range rather than a very selective narrow range. So, we really feel that it’s a big expansion with the U.S.”
While Dunkerton said the U.K. is the brand’s top market, with outerwear as their bestseller, they have a positive outlook for the American market. “The U.K. obviously because we’re from there,” said Dunkerton. “Half-a-billion dollars retail in the U.K. and now we’re expanding very heavily in Europe and obviously having bought back the licensing in America, we will be expanding. Our jackets are incredible. We’re probably famous for our graphic products. We sell a lot of shorts, we’re quite a broad lifestyle brand. This expansion allows the department stores to buy into everything since the stores were too small and they selected a very narrow range of products that didn’t allow the consumer to see the whole range. So we’re much bigger than most of the homegrown brands in the U.K.”
The business made an operating loss of 5.1 million pounds, or $7.9 million, last year and Dunkerton reports that there were numerous issues with SDUSA LLC.
“Well, the store sizes were wrong,” said Dunkerton. “The number of options in the stores were wrong. I mean, the basic scales of retail didn’t work. Unfortunately, the licensing as was didn’t have those skills. So, just bringing the level of professionalism and bringing the consumer the proper choice and having the right pricing for a product and making it a proper retail destination as opposed to to a moderately run store will probably very quickly turn it around.”
British actor Idris Elba will design a line for Superdry, which will be sold globally in stores, online and through wholesale partnerships. “Once every 10 years, somebody cool comes into the world and has something special,” said Dunkerton. “I would say like David Beckham. David Beckham has something special, Idris has something special. You can’t define it.”
In terms of future collaborations, the duo plans to keep an eye out. “We always look for interesting collaborations,” said Dunkerton. “That’s part of our DNA. We are now excited about what we’re up to in terms of products.”