Marco Gobbetti is used to dealing in luxury and that is what he plans to do at Burberry. The former Céline Chief Executive Officer, who has since taken up the top executive role at Burberry, is beginning to make his plans for the British brand known. With creative director Christopher Bailey slated to leave the company next year, Burberry will undergo a significant shift and price tags will reflect it.
“The mid-market offering no longer has a place with consumers," Gobbetti said on Thursday. “Consumers prefer either luxury items or mass-market brands, mixing them together to create a look." And Gobbetti's Burberry is not looking to situate itself in the mass-market category, although Gobbetti he has “no intention of shutting out customers through pricing.” Instead, it aims to more effectively compete with the likes of Louis Vuitton and Gucci.
With that in mind, the brand “will shift further up-market and more regularly update its fashion range, including cutting sales to non-luxury stores, initially in the United States,” per Reuters, in an attempt to enhance the brand’s exclusivity.
According to Gobbetti, “By re-energizing our product and customer experience to establish our position firmly in luxury, we will play in the most rewarding, enduring segment of the market."
Gobbetti does known a thing or two about reviving a less-than-buzzworthy brands. His time at LVMH-owned Céline has been largely deemed a commercial success story, enjoying double-digit sales growth and strong profits at a time when similarly situated brands were struggling.
British designer Phoebe Philo, the creative director of Céline, and Gobbetti worked side by side, having both joined the Paris-based brand in 2008, to implement a business strategy that emphasized the discreet and rarified image of Céline, and it worked. At the height of their time together, the brand was, as so aptly noted by the Guardian, “a favorite label on the front row and a hot ticket at Paris fashion week.” Its garments and accessories found favor amongst luxury shoppers, while fast fashion brands, such as Zara, molded entire collections based on Philo’s minimalist chic seasonal offerings.
Given the rumors swirling that Philo may be on her way out of Céline, it is difficult not to suspect that she (if for no reason other than having expressed desire in the past to work closer to London, where her husband and three children reside) might just end up back with Gobbetti - this time at Burberry. Gobbetti said on Thursday that while they "have started process to find right creative lead, don’t expect any announcement any time very soon."
As for someone has already secured a spot at Burberry alongside Gobbetti: Merchandising chief, Judy Collinson, who joined the label from Christian Dior in May. She will help, according to Reuters, to "polish the brand’s appeal" in its movement up the chain of luxury.