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Fears for future of 'super soggy' Superdry as shares slump to record low

Shares in Superdry plunged to a record low on Monday after the struggling fashion retailer reported a bigger-than-expected annual loss.

It came as trading in the British brand resumed after the company revealed on Friday that it ended the year to April with an adjusted pre-tax loss of £21.7m - compared with a profit of £21.6m the year before.

The chain, which had asked for shares to be suspended after delaying publication of the results, also warned it expected little revenue growth in the current financial year.

At one point on Monday, Superdry's shares plummeted by about a fifth to 43p - its lowest-ever level since floating on the market in 2010 at 500p. The price at the close was 47p, down 16%.

Some commentators warned the market performance suggested investors were beginning to "lose faith" in the brand.

Superdry - which specialises in goods such as sweatshirts and hoodies - said last week that the cost of living crisis, the fall in real wages and extreme weather in Europe had all contributed to the slump.

Its CEO and founder Julian Dunkerton described it as a "difficult year for the business" and said market conditions had been "extremely challenging".

But the company also revealed its new autumn and winter collection was selling better than usual and said it had been raising funds to bolster its finances while cutting costs.

However, Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, told Sky News: "With sales set to be super soggy for Superdry, investors are losing faith in prospects for a turnaround.

"The company is focusing on cost savings and margin improvements, but it's clear the brand has lost its mojo.

"Once loyal fans are now older, and less inclined to wear its branded shirts and gilets, while the company has found it harder to compete to win over new younger fashion followers, faced with the power of powerhouses like Nike and Adidas."

She added: "A lot will be riding on upcoming collections and, although reinvention isn't impossible, it's set to be an uphill struggle, especially given that the company is still dealing with cost-of-living headwinds in key markets.''

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Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at AJ Bell, said: "This is a wounded company trying to fight its way up a hill that's been covered in treacle.

"It's been battered by COVID shutdowns, buffeted by cost of living pressures and hobbled by painfully high levels of expensive debt, meaning investors have scented blood, and the delay in releasing the latest trading update was the only excuse needed for some shareholders to flee.

"Add in the so-called tourist tax which has impacted sales at the company's flagship store [in London's Oxford Street] and you have to wonder how its founder is keeping his chin from hitting the table."

Ms Hewson also said that while Superdry had a unique selling point, "it's just a bit too pricey for many of its customers to splurge more than a couple of times a year".

She added: "It's still trying to put itself back together and, with the company valued at a fraction of what it was worth when it splashed onto London markets, there will be many wondering if it's running out of time."

But Michael Browne, chief investment officer at Martin Currie, told Sky's Ian King he still believed there was a chance for Superdry to turn things around as the brand had experienced strong sales.

He said: "There is an opportunity ... there is something there to get your teeth into, if you can just get through this particular period now."

But Mr Browne added: "It's not been the finest tale since the peak - a couple of billion [pounds] market cap, it was opening stores left, right and centre, it was almost the next Abercrombie & Fitch, but it never quite got there."