Julian Dunkerton

Fashion retailer Superdry has told its co-founder Julian Dunkerton that he is not welcome to return to the company.

Mr Dunkerton left Superdry last year but has requested to return after the company reported weak sales for the autumn/winter season.

Superdry issued a profit warning in December, expecting to report a profit of between £55 million and £70m, down from earlier forecasts of £84m. And last week, the company said it would cut 200 jobs at its head office as part of a £50m cost-cutting plan.

Shareholders will meet at the start of April to decide whether or not the co-founder will be allowed to return, but the Superdry board said such a move would be "extremely damaging to the company".

Mr Dunkerton oversaw the autumn/winter collection, and the board is blaming his designs for poor sales. He believes the chain should return to its trademark hoodies and jumpers, featuring Japanese branding. However, experts believe it is now a saturated market.

Mr Dunkerton, who is still the largest shareholder with an 18.4% stake, argues that its strategy of introducing new products more frequently is failing.

However, in a statement, Superdry said: "The board unanimously believes that Mr Dunkerton's return to the company, in any capacity, would be extremely damaging to the company and its prospects."

It added that Mr Dunkerton's strategy would not fit with the "open-minded collaborative culture, values and operation of the company".