August 14, 2012 / 10:01 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Superdry fashion group's co-founder quits

* Theo Karpathios, CEO wholesale and international, resigns

* Karpathios owns 14.8 pct stake in business

* Leaves with 300,000 pounds payoff

* Shares down 2.7 pct

LONDON, Aug 14 (Reuters) - SuperGroup, owner of the Superdry fashion brand, was dealt another blow on Tuesday when the co-founder of the business, Theo Karpathios, abruptly quit “to take on new challenges”.

Shares in the firm, whose celebrity fans include David Beckham, Pippa Middleton, Ed Sheeran and Tulisa Contostavlos, fell 2.7 percent after it said Karpathios had tendered his resignation and will step down from the board immediately.

SuperGroup was one of 2010’s most successful stock market flotations. After listing at 500 pence its shares rocketed to a high of 1,899 pence in early 2011. But three profit warnings and a series of mistakes, including stock shortages and arithmetical errors in accounting have led to a dramatic reverse.

A spokeswoman for SuperGroup denied Karpathios had rowed with Chief Executive Julian Dunkerton and said he left on good terms and with his contractual entitlement of a year’s basic salary of 300,000 pounds ($471,100).

Karpathios, who owns a 14.8 percent stake, had been with the business since 2005 and held the position of chief executive officer, wholesale and international.

“As a co-founder of the business I will always take a close interest in SuperGroup and I look forward to its continued growth and success,” he said.

Analysts said they took this statement to mean that Karpathios would hold onto his stake.

SuperGroup said a process to find his successor was underway.

In the meantime Luc Clement, who heads up European business development, Greg Roberts, head of international business development and Andy Humphreys, head of UK wholesale, will report directly to Dunkerton.

Dunkerton has attributed the firm’s problems to growing pains in the glare of the stockmarket. But he said last month the April appointments of Susanne Given as chief operating officer and Shaun Wills as chief financial officer had reduced his workload, enabling him to focus on product ranges.

Shares in the firm were down 11.75 pence at 427.6 pence at 0927 GMT, valuing the business at about 349 million pounds ($548 million).

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