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Burberry’s Christopher Bailey CEO experiment was bound to fail

Burberry’s Christopher Bailey CEO experiment was bound to fail
[Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images]

Christopher Bailey, the creative director credited with breathing new life into Burberry when it had lost its cachet, is leaving the company after 17 years.

In the late 1990s, Burberry’s brand had been diluted and its signature plaid print was ubiquitous, as the company made its license widely available. Bailey was brought on in 2001 to be the brand’s creative director. In 2006, he was joined by a new CEO, Angela Ahrendts, and together, the pair transformed Burberry back into a luxury brand. They did so partly by limiting the use of the check print and taking a tech-forward approach. The brand became known for live-streaming runway shows before it was common in the industry, and tinkering with social media.

Business of Fashion, which first reported this news, points out that 10 years into Bailey’s tenure–in 2011–Burberry was generating £1.5 billion in revenue, a 27% increase over the previous year, with a market cap of £5.8 billion. “That was twice the rate of growth of LVMH’s revenue and market value over the same period,” Business of Fashion reports.

In 2014, Ahrendts was poached by Apple and Bailey was appointed to the dual role of CEO and creative director. This ended up being a disaster for Burberry, causing its revenue to slide by 2% and operating profits to decrease by 21%. Earlier this year, Marco Gobetti was brought on to be Burberry’s CEO after a stint turning around the LVMH accessories brand Céline.

Bailey has not disclosed what he will do in the next chapter of his career. But he’s certainly left his mark on the British luxury brand.ES