INTERNATIONAL - Christopher Bailey, who fashioned trench coat maker Burberry into a global label, will part ways with the British company next year, as its new chief executive revitalises the brand.
Bailey joined Burberry from Gucci, where he was senior women's wear designer, in 2001. Working with former chief executives Rose Marie Bravo and Angela Ahrendts, he made Burberry’s camel, red and black check designs must-have items for fashion buyers. While sales rose in the early 2000s, helped by ad campaigns fronted by model Kate Moss, Burberry became a victim of its own success when its check pattern was widely counterfeited, but Bailey successfully re-established its upmarket credentials.
Although Bailey also became chief executive when Ahrendts left for Apple in 2014, Burberry’s growth faltered, first as demand in Asia slowed, and then as it struggled to rebound.
Burberry said Bailey would step down from his board positions of president and chief creative officer at the end of March, but would support Marco Gobbetti, who took over from him as chief executive, until December 31, 2018. Bailey’s exit will enable Gobbetti to revamp Burberry’s creative direction as well as its operations, analysts said.
“Burberry has become somewhat predictable,” Exane BNP Paribas said. The company, which still manufactures trench coats in Yorkshire, northern England, poached Gobbetti from Celine to overhaul the business earlier this year, leaving Bailey with creative control.
Gobbetti has already made changes to the company founded in 1856 by Thomas Burberry, cutting costs and striking a licensing deal for make-up and perfumes.