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Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton in conversation with RAU students
Staff and students at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) were delighted to welcome Julian Dunkerton, founder of Superdry and CEO of the SuperGroup, for a Q&A session last week (16 November) in celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week.
In an interactive Q&A session, Laura Marshall, third year BSc (Hons) International Business Management (Food & Agri-business) student and President of the Enterprise Society, posed questions from the students. Julian captivated the packed audience of 160 students and staff with his cutting-edge insights about what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
He talked about the challenges of starting a new business, how the iconic global brand Superdry was born (co-founded with designer James Holder in 2003), the way in which his ever-expanding portfolio of businesses has developed (the Soho Coffee Company, Cult Clothing, Massive Records, Dowdeswell Estates, Dowdeswell Park, Dunkertons Cider and the Cotswold hotel group The Lucky Onion) as well as personal rewards gained from ‘being in control of your own destiny’.
Julian also emphasised the importance of loving what you do, never chasing money for money’s sake, self-discipline, thinking long-term, and keeping up with developments. One key message was the importance of finding a gap in the market and always considering the consumer perspective.
Of particular interest to the students were his Gloucestershire based group of luxury hotels and pubs, (The Lucky Onion Group), Dunkertons Cider, and Dowdeswell Park – a 210-acre site just outside Cheltenham. Julian explained how this will be home to an organic food market and various activities which are designed to promote activity and a connection with nature.
His love of Gloucestershire, the architecture, and its surroundings was evident when he spoke about another brainchild of his - Dowdeswell Estates. Here building contractors undertake a wide range of construction projects, including renovations on historic buildings, public and community structures, and commercial developments.
Before the Q&A session, Julian met with a select group of enterprise students who are in the process of setting up their own businesses whilst studying, advising them individually about their ideas.
Phyllida Wilson, Visiting Lecturer and Consultant at the RAU said: “We cannot thank Julian enough for the giving of himself, his entrepreneurial expertise, and his personal philosophy so generously. He made an enormous impact on students and staff alike and his visit will be talked about for a long time to come. We look forward to welcoming him back to the RAU later in the academic year.”