Burberry won critical acclaim with the much-talked-about return of its classic check – once perceived as downmarket – on its September catwalk at London Fashion Week. However, the biggest news this year from the UK’s leading luxury brand was the announcement that Christopher Bailey, its golden boy designer turned president and chief creative officer, will leave the business in 2018 after nearly 20 years.
Bailey relinquished his former CEO role in July, handing over to Céline’s Marco Gobbetti. He then announced in October that he would step down from the board on 31 March 2018, but remain at the business until the end of the year to support Gobbetti.
After a run of lacklustre performances and declines in sales, Bailey led the business to positive double-digit growth this year – it had a 24% boost to reported operating profit for the six months to 30 September, to £127m. Revenues also rose, up 9% to £1.26bn on a reported basis.
Bailey’s influence will continue to impact both Burberry and the wider industry, whether it be his design prowess, digital innovation or focus on multichannel, experiential and agenda-setting retail strategies.