Burberry Taps New Digital Officer, Markets Anxious About Quarter Results

Famed British fashion house Burberry takes technology seriously. After using the then all-new iSight® camera on iPhone 5s camera's to launch its Spring/Summer 2014 womenswear collection, the heritage brand launched a virtual storefront on Alibaba's immensely popular Tmall online marketplace this year (a venture that is reportedly off yo a rocky start with many consumers returning their purchases). More recently, the brand has announced a partnership with Twitter, using the social media platform's Cards feature to let users subscribe to the brand's calendar and was one of the first to embrace the newly-launched .uk web domain.

In case that's not enough, the house, which is currently under the creative control of Christopher Bailey, who also serves as CEO (more about his relatively new role here), following the departure of Angela Ahrendts to Apple, has named a new senior vice president of digital commerce: BBC Worldwide’s chief digital officer, Daniel Heaf. During his time at BBC Worldwide, Heaf led projects which helped drive the broadcaster’s digital revenues increase from around 3 percent to over 13 percent, including initiatives such as licensing partnerships with Netflix and Hulu. Of his new position, Heaf, who began work on June 30th, says Burberry is a creative company with “huge digital ambitions”, which were the factors that drew him to the role.

Heaf's appointment comes as markets are nervously anticipating next week’s fiscal-quarter figures for the British design house, as they will be the first without Ahrendts at the helm. While Bailey is rather obviously working diligently to innovate in terms of the house's use of technology, a factor out of Bailey's control is the cooling levels of spending in the Asian markets, specifically China, as regulations have been introduced by the government that are having significant affects on luxury spending.

According to a statement from the brand in late May, Burberry's total pretax profit rose 8 percent to nearly $800 million in the 12 months ending March 31, 2014, higher than analysts' predicts. The retail/wholesale business achieved a 17 percent increase in adjusted operating profit on a 19 percent revenue gain, driven by the 15 percent revenue growth and 12 percent comparable store sales increase in retail. Of this, accessories represented 36 percent of retail/wholesale revenue, women’s 30 percent, men’s 23 percent, children’s 4 percent and beauty 7 percent.

Bailey, took up the role of CEO that same month (retaining his role as chief creative officer, which he’s held since 2009), replacing  Ahrendts, under whom Burberry’s sales more than doubled in her almost eight years as chief executive and left the British brand to head retail at Apple Inc., where ex-YSL CEO Paul Deneve is currently "working on special projects as a vice president reporting directly to Tim Cook," according to the Cupertino, California-based tech giant. More to come …