Gobbetti to be Burberry CEO as Bailey sticks to creative brief

Christopher and Marco Gobbetti of BurberryBig change at Burberry next year with Christopher Bailey stepping back from his CEO role. But the man who helped turn the label into the luxury powerhouse it is will retain his chief creative officer role and gets the new title of president.

The new CEO will be Marco Gobbetti, currently heading up LVMH’s luxury Céline brand.

So is this a shock? Not really. When former CEO Angela Ahrendts left just over two years ago there were a lot of questions around the decision to make Bailey CEO with many analysts asking whether he had the experience and also the bandwidth to drive Burberry creatively as well as on the business front.

And while Burberry, which is due to update the market about its performance this week, has struggled in recent periods, Bailey can’t really be blamed. He’s faced a slowdown in China along with the rest of the luxury sector, as well as the big unknown that the Brexit vote has caused.

But while Burberry’s share price rose on the announcement, there’s still some concern around the move. While the existence of CEOs, COOs and presidents is common in US corporations, it’s not in UK firms and some are wondering just how much say Bailey will have compared to Gobbetti. Is this a recipe for future top level disagreements is what they’re thinking?

For now though, let’s just focus on that rising share price, the update later in the week and the other changes that were revealed at the same time.

Burberry’s well-thought-of CFO Carol Fairweather is also leaving next spring to be replaced by Smith & Nephew’s Julie Brown who will be both CFO and COO (Burberry’s current COO John Smith is set to leave next summer).

So what of Gobbetti. Well, for a start he won’t be joining until 2017. As well as running Céline for eight years, he also has experience at Moschino and Bottega Veneta so he knows a lot about European luxury brands.

He’ll be tasked with driving the brand as it continues to reinvent itself in the digital age as well as negotiating the post-Brexit world that all British businesses will have to face.

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