The sudden departure of Mulberry’s chief executive Bruno Guillon yesterday has led to analysts questioning who could step into Guillon’s shoes, particularly as the luxury brand has had somewhat of a tempestuous year.
Independent analyst Nick Bubb says it had been “debatable” how long the core shareholders would keep faith with the “embattled” chief executive and his strategy, and it appears it would not be for too much longer.
“I’m not shocked by it at all,” another analyst told Drapers, citing its catalogue of negative trading updates and profit warnings as the reason why. “I do wonder who will take up the new position,” she added, saying that the role would be a difficult one to step into as expectations for a turnaround would be high.
In fact the industry seems rather perplexed at who may be willing to fill Guillon’s boots given that Mulberry has somewhat fallen from its lofty position as the ultimate “it bag” brand, with analysts when asked by Drapers struggling to come up with names of potential candidates.
Guillon’s departure is the latest high profile exit to rock the brand after long-standing creative director Emma Hill revealed she was to leave last June.
Mathew Dixon, director of executive search firm Hudson Walker International, says Hill’s departure proved “increasingly damaging”. “In interviews she spoke to the Mulberry customer in a warm and very English way – a brand ambassador whom consumers easily identified with. Bruno was forced to become the mouthpiece of the brand in her absence and lacked the wit and empathy that had attracted the consumer to the brand in the first place,” he said.
Over the last few years Guillon’s strategy has seen him attempting to elevate the brand across the globe and has involved a hike in prices, which has left consumers less than amused with many suggesting the increases were introduced too suddenly.
With Mulberry a listed company it will need to tread carefully as it navigates the tricky waters of appointing a new chief executive whilst also finding a creative director. I don’t imagine the pressure will ease as shareholders scrutinise every move it makes and the luxury British label will have to ensure whoever comes in can handle the heat as the brand faces its biggest challenge yet.