Burberry’s Christopher Bailey to Leave Before 2019

Burberry Group Plc creative head Christopher Bailey will leave the company next year as a new CEO strengthens his hold on the U.K. trench-coat maker, ending an unusual executive juggling act.

Bailey’s departure follows the arrival of Marco Gobbetti, who became CEO in July, taking the helm at the British fashion mainstay after leading LVMH’s Celine. Burberry shares fell as much as 3.4 percent in London but later recovered to near unchanged.

Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

“While I am sad not to have the opportunity to partner with him for longer, the legacy he leaves and the exceptional talent we have at Burberry give me enormous confidence in our future,” Gobbetti said in a statement.

Bailey’s departure will end a power-sharing arrangement in which he stepped back from the top spot while working with a new CEO and maintaining his influence over the brand’s creative output. “We will work hand in hand,” Bailey told Bloomberg TV when Gobbetti’s appointment was announced in 2016. “It wasn’t a big decision for me whether I had a CEO title or not.”

Burberry’s latest quarterly results showed signs of strength in China after a difficult few years for the company that followed the departure of former CEO Angela Ahrendts for Apple Inc. in 2014. The brand is seeking to boost its exclusivity after cutting its accessibly priced Brit and London lines as well as pulling out of many U.S. department stores whose heavy discounting held back its luxury aspirations.

Bailey, 46, said in a statement that he is departing to pursue new creative projects. He has worked at Burberry since 2001, spearheading the brand’s transformation from a British heritage label known for its outerwear into a fashion house with runway credentials. He became CEO three years ago, keeping the title of creative chief. He’ll remain in that post, as well as serving as president, until March and will support Gobbetti in a transitional role until the end of next year, the company said.


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