Christopher Bailey to leave Burberry next year

It will be the end of an era next year as shock news came on Tuesday morning that Burberry President and Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey will leave in 2018 after 17 years at the firm.

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Burberry - Spring-Summer2018 - Womenswear - Londres - © PixelFormula

Bailey, who was until recently also CEO, helped transform the company into a luxury powerhouse and has been the driving creative force at the brand as it has competed with the American and European luxury giants in the battle to win over the Chinese luxury consumer.

He’s seen some ups and downs with the company’s onward march having faltered occasionally in recent years and its move into beauty not always the success story it would have liked.

But overall, he has also helped make Burberry into a major influencer label, one that is at the forefront of embracing digital and a must-see on the London Fashion Week calendar.

So what happens now? It’s not going to be a quick exit even though he officially steps down in March. Burberry said Bailey will “pursue new creative projects” but “will provide his full support to Chief Executive Officer Marco Gobbetti and the team on the transition until 31 December 2018.”

Since he joined in 2001, Bailey has seen the label grow from what the firm called “a small licensed outerwear business” to become one of the world's largest and global luxury brands. Not that Burberry was exactly tiny when joined, but it certainly wasn’t the global powerhouse it is now.

He became CEO and Chief Creative Officer in May 2014 and oversaw the consolidation of the company’s various brands into one power label.

Burberry said he was a key figure in the appointment of Marco Gobbetti as CEO and since then, “Marco and Christopher have worked together to shape an ambition and a strategy for the next chapter to accelerate the growth and success of the Burberry brand.”

Gobbetti said he “understands and supports Christopher's decision and will now begin the process of finding a successor.”

Without saying what he would do next, Bailey said: “Burberry encapsulates so much of what is great about Britain. As an organisation, it is creative, innovative and outward looking. It celebrates diversity and challenges received wisdoms. It is over 160 years old, but it has a young spirit. It is part of the establishment, but it is always changing, and always learning. It has been a truly inspiring place to work and the decision to leave was not an easy one. I do truly believe, however, that Burberry's best days are still ahead of her.”

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