A few days ago we were hit with the unexpected news that after 17 years at the famously British brand, Christopher Bailey will be leaving his roles at Burberry. His exit won’t take effect until March 31st 2018 when he will leave his positions as president and chief creative officer but in the meanwhile, he will still design the Spring/Summer 2018 collection.
Christopher Bailey joined Burberry in 2001 and has been an essential part in the transformation and success of the company over the years, but Bailey says that he is “excited to pursue new creative projects” but will remain fully committed to the future success of the brand. He was brought in to rescue and rejuvenate the brand after the signature Burberry check was adopted by ‘chavs’, not the type of social group that Burberry wished to be associated with. But thanks to Bailey’s help, the brand re-assumed it’s position as a luxury brand. Consequently, revenue of £1.5 billion was being generated by 2011. Furthermore, Bailey capitalised on the growing popularity of social media and consequently made Burberry one of the first luxury brands to take advantage of technological advances.
However it’s not all been sunshine and rainbows for the brand; particularly recently. People grew tired of seeing the same things season after season from Bailey’s Burberry; the same trench coat coming down the catwalk in the same Kensington Gardens venue to the same soundtrack of Indie British music. His exciting use of technology quickly grew stale. Other critics claimed that in the process of trying to regain Burberry’s reputation, the brand had limited its ability to create new, desirable products.
Things only worsened for the brand when Bailey was appointed the dual role of chief creative officer and chief executive. Burberry’s revenue and profit growth continued to downward spiral under Bailey’s control and in 2017, operating profits were down 21%. Therefore is it really any surprise that chief executive of the brand Marco Gobetti is keen for a ‘creative reboot’?
Burberry is unique; it owns ‘British Luxury’ and doesn’t have to compete with the likes of Dior and Chanel who have to share the umbrella of Parisian couture. Consequently, there is enormous opportunity for the future of the brand but to transform this potential into sales and growth, Bailey’s successor must find a new focus for the creative side of the business.
So who could replace Bailey? Well recruitment for the role has begun but with the recent announcement that Phoebe Philo will be departing from Céline, her name is being thrown around a lot; especially given that she worked so successfully with Chief Executive Gobbetti at Céline. But whoever ends up as the new chief executive, it will be very interesting to see what will happen to Burberry in the future.
Phoebe Philo who will be leaving Céline in the not too distant future.