Burberry chief executive Gobbetti to quit to return to Italy

Business

LONDON (AP) — Luxury fashion brand Burberry is on the lookout for a new boss after revealing Monday that chief executive Marco Gobbetti is quitting his job at the end of the year.

Gobbetti, who replaced Christopher Bailey in 2017, will leave the U.K.-based retailer after five years at the helm to take up a new, unspecified role in Italy to be closer to his family, the company said.

During his tenure, Gobbetti has sought to get more Burberry products to be sold at higher prices and rely less on discounts and sales. He also strove to improve Burberry’s marketing and to focus more on wealthy young people.

“With Burberry reenergized and firmly set on a path to strong growth, I feel that now is the right time for me to step down,” Gobbetti said.

Chairman Gerry Murphy said Gobbetti has had a “transformative impact” at the company. He said the board is “naturally disappointed,” but understands why Gobbetti wants to return to Italy after 20 years abroad.

Like others, Burberry has suffered during the coronavirus pandemic, with stores closed for large parts of the year and European outlets suffering from the lack of international tourists. In the U.K., around two-thirds of sales came from tourists, who have largely been absent throughout the pandemic.

But since lockdown restrictions have been eased around the world, the company saw a 32% boost in sales in the three months to the end of March, with strong demand in Asia and the U.S. The performance helped limit the fall in full-year revenues to 11% to 2.3 billion pounds ($3.2 billion).

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