LONDON — Burberry PLC replaced Christopher Bailey as its CEO on Monday, ending the project of having him both lead the fashion house and serve as its chief creative officer.
The luxury goods maker named Marco Gobbetti, CEO of French luxury brand Celine, as its new chief executive. He will take over in 2017.
Bailey will stay on as chief creative officer and as president, overseeing all elements of the brand known for its trench coats and checkered print.
Gobbetti will be responsible for all commercial, operational and financial elements of the business.
In many ways, Bailey was a victim of poor timing. The economic slowdown in China — the company’s main growth market — began to bite soon after he was named to the job in October 2013. Sales suffered and Bailey took a pay cut to compensate for disappointing earnings.
“On product, Bailey excels,” said Anusha Couttigane, senior fashion analyst at Kantar Retail. “On things like pricing strategies, maximizing profitability and thoroughly reviewing every aspect of the business, these simply aren’t his main strengths and I’m sure he will welcome the support that Gobbetti will bring in these areas.”
The company also announced that Julie Brown has been appointed to the new role of chief operating and financial officer, underscoring that management is under review. Carol Fairweather, the chief financial officer, will be leaving the business but will help manage the transition, the company said in a statement.
Brown is currently the chief financial officer of medical technology company Smith and Nephew PLC.
In many ways, Bailey was a visionary, attempting to bring the company into the digital age. Under his leadership, the company announced plans to combine its menswear and womenswear catwalk shows into a single presentation, and slash the amount of time it takes for customers to obtain items seen on the runway.
The move from four shows to two and broke with traditions in the industry. They were meant to bring a closer connection between the experience and glitz of the shows and bring the magic more quickly to the customer.