Burberry’s top designer Christopher Bailey – the man credited with transforming the trench coat maker into a global luxury brand – is to leave the company next year, it has announced.
Mr Bailey, 46, joined the company as chief designer in 2001, becoming chief creative officer in 2009, and his tenure at the group has seen it become a FTSE 100 firm worth £8bn.
He was propelled into the role of chief executive in 2014, sharing it with his creative duties.
But he lost the dual role earlier this year when Marco Gobbetti, from French fashion house Celine, was brought in to head the group after it faced “challenging market conditions”.
Mr Bailey will leave his current role as president and chief creative officer on 31 March and will stay at the company until the end of 2018 to ensure a smooth transition.
He has agreed to give up shares valued at £16m that were awarded as part of his pay packages between 2014 and 2017.
Shares were about 1% lower after the announcement.
Mr Bailey is credited with transforming the 161-year-old company by weaving its traditional look into contemporary designs as well as embracing the digital marketplace.
But its international success began to dim as the global economic picture darkened and China’s appetite for luxury goods faded.
Meanwhile, Mr Bailey faced shareholder opposition over his pay, with 52% of investors rejecting a package worth up to £23.6m in a 2014 AGM revolt.
A smaller but still significant 31% voted against the company’s remuneration report this year, which awarded Mr Bailey £3.5m for 2016/17, up from £1.9m the year before.
Mr Bailey said: “It has been a truly inspiring place to work and the decision to leave was not an easy one.
“I do truly believe, however, that Burberry’s best days are still ahead of her and that the company will go from strength to strength.”
Mr Gobbetti said: “Burberry has undergone an incredible transformation since 2001 and Christopher has been instrumental to the company’s success in that period.”