As both the Chief Creative Officer and Chief Executive Officer, Christopher Bailey well and truly now rules the roost at Burberry.
Overnight in London, British brand Burberry announced that its current CEO, Angela Ahrendts, would step down, with Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey taking on her role in addition to his own in the coming months. Over the past decade, Ahrendts and Bailey have together built Burberry into arguably the world's leading digital luxury fashion brand, with an enormous social media reach stemming from innovative online and offline initiatives, such as the Art of the Trench campaign and Burberry Acoustic music project. Today, the brand boasts 212 retail stores around the world, with 215 concessions, 52 outlets and 66 franchises, and was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2002.
While Ahrednts is leaving to pursue an executive role at Apple, following in the footsteps of Paul Deneve, the former CEO of Saint Laurent, Bailey has his work cut out for him in taking the dual creative and commercial roles of the company. Of course, Bailey has been with the company for twelve years and has been largely responsible for its phenomenal repositioning and growth, with his current role encompassing all consumer-facing activities including product design, marketing, store design and consumer technology and digital innovation. He is, it is fair to say, much more than simply a designer, and within that category alone he is supported by a team of around 70. As part of his new role as Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer, Bailey will join Burberry's board in due course, and while he'll still require the counsel and approval of the board, he finds himself in a unique position of power within the company. Beyond a handful of designers that still sit across all facets of their business, such as Sir Paul Smith, Bailey is perhaps the only to hold such an all-encompassing role at a company not his own. But as Ahrendts says in a statement: "I am confident that, with Sir John [Peace, Chairman of Burberry]'s guidance and the executive team's support, Christopher, as one of this generation's greatest visionaries, will continue to lead Burberry to new heights."
Ahrendts and Bailey will spend the next few months in a period of transition before Ahrendts departs for her new role in mid-2014. See a video interview between Ahrendts, Bailey and Peace here. I wish Bailey every success in this new chapter for both him and the brand.