SuperGroup founder sells shares worth £53m to fund divorce

Julian Dunkerton, who launched the SuperDry label, told the stock market l that he would be selling about 5% of his entire stake in the business

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The Independent Online

The founder of fashion chain Supergroup, popular with celebrities including David Beckham and Helena Christensen, is selling shares worth £53m to fund his costly divorce.

Julian Dunkerton, who launched the SuperDry label from a market stall in Cheltenham, told the stock market last night that he would be selling about 5 per cent of his entire stake in the business.

The announcement came after the close of the stock market, with shares at £13.29 a pop, and follows in the footsteps of his co-founder James Holder, who was forced to sell around £20m-worth of shares three years ago to fund his own divorce.

His business partner and award-winning actor Idris Elba, who recently launched a line of clothing with SuperDry, is also reported to have split with his long-term girlfriend Naiyana Garth. 

Mr Dunkerton is understood to have separated from his wife Charlotte, whom he has a young daughter with, around three years ago and is now in another relationship.

Last year he sold his £6.5m Cotswold home to move into the neighbouring stately home, but has only recently begun formal divorce proceedings.

The 50-year-old will retain a stake in Supergroup of 27.2 per cent – worth £294m on the current share price. He also owns several properties, including hotels and restaurants, in Cheltenham.

However, shares are likely to fall following the share placing, which will be done through brokers at Investec and Canaccord Genuity.

Also, due to the large number of shares being sold, the price achieved is also likely to be set lower than the current stock market price to increase interest.

Mr Dunkerton, who stepped down as chief executive last year and was replaced by former Co-op boss Euan Sutherland, is not the first senior retailer to have had his failed marriage publicly dissected through stock market announcements.

Sainsbury’s former boss Justin King was forced to reveal to the stock market in 2011 that he was getting divorced, as he transferred £2m-worth of shares to his estranged wife Claire. And in 2004 Stephen Marks, the millionaire behind another fashion chain, French Connection, sold £40m-worth of shares to finance his divorce from wife Ailsa, in effect losing him a controlling stake in the firm for the first time.