Superdry in talks with Indian giant Reliance to fashion £25m licensing deal

Business

Superdry, the struggling London-listed fashion retailer, is close to striking a partnership with India’s biggest retailer that will release tens of millions of pounds to bolster its fragile balance sheet.

Sky News has learnt that Superdry is in advanced talks with Reliance Brands, part of the vast Mumbai-headquartered conglomerate, about a new licensing joint venture.

City sources said a deal could be announced as early as Wednesday morning.

The agreement is expected to be worth more than £25m to Superdry, mirroring an agreement announced in March to sell the company’s intellectual property assets in the Asia-Pacific region to South Korea’s Cowell Fashion Company for $50m (£34m).

Reliance Brands is already Superdry’s retail partner in India, operating dozens of stores.

Superdry’s founder and boss, Julian Dunkerton, has been racing to raise funds amid a steep downturn in its trading performance.

In August, it announced that it had agreed a £25m secondary lending facility with Hilco Capital, augmenting an existing asset-based lending deal with Bantry Bay Capital worth up to £80m.

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The Cheltenham-based company also raised £12m from a share sale priced at 76.3p-per-share in May.

Investors in that equity-raise have lost a large chunk of their money on paper, with the stock trading at around 41.8p on Tuesday afternoon.

Superdry warned earlier this year that sales growth had failed to meet directors’ expectations, which it said could “partly be attributed to…the cost of living crisis having a significant impact on spending and footfall, and poor weather resulting in less demand for our new spring-summer collection”.

In its full-year results in August, Mr Dunkerton said it had been “a difficult year for the business and the market conditions have been extremely challenging”.

“The good news is that despite the external turbulence, the brand is in sound health and has momentum,” he added.

Superdry’s founder owns roughly a quarter of the company, and has periodically been linked with attempts to take it private.

He established the business in 2003 before being ousted and then returning to the helm.

On Tuesday, its shares were trading with a market valuation of just £41m.

A spokesman for Superdry declined to comment.

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