IT blunder sends SuperGroup shares into a spin

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The Independent Online

SuperGroup shares fell nearly a third yesterday as the owner of the trendy Superdry fashion brand issued a profits warning after a botched warehouse IT systems upgrade left stores significantly short of some size ranges.

SuperGroup said the blunder would result in full-year profits – previously forecast at up to £67m – being lowered by up to £9m.

Chas Howes, finance director, insisted he was "confident" the issue would be fully resolved by November, adding: "Christmas is absolutely still on track."

But yesterday's share plunge is the latest dip in a rollercoaster ride since SuperGroup floated on the stock market at 500p in March 2010.

Its shares hit £18.20 in February this year but yesterday plummeted by 298p – or 29.7 per cent – to 707p.

Some analysts blame the volatility on miscommunication, such as around cotton prices, while others question the rate of the company's expansion.

But Mr Howes insisted: "There is no damage to the brand." He pointed out that strong demand for its offer and new stores overseas contributed to a 66 per cent increase in total sales to £54m for the three months to 31 July.

UK retail sales, including online, rose 51 per cent to £34m for the quarter.

Julian Dunkerton, chief executive, admitted problems at its warehouse in Barnwood, Glos, had left shops short of the right sizes in late September.

He said: "You could certainly see that most products had one or two sizes missing. We saw a significant amount of replenishment was missing."

Mr Howes said trade had "held up really well" in the first half of September. But then there was a drop in sales, later put down to the IT glitch.

Freddie George, analyst at Evolution Securities, said the fall was worsened by "unseasonal weather in the last couple of weeks in September and uncertain global economic outlook".