How is Mulberry Faring Under the Creative Watch of Ex-Céline Director Johnny Coca?

Lanvin may not be thriving under its new creative direction, but Mulberry is. The British luxury brand reported a 21 percent rise in annual profit, thanks largely to recently-released products and increased online sales – all under the watch of new creative director Johnny Coca.  According to Reuters, “The company, best known for its leather handbags, said on Wednesday that it made a pretax profit of 7.5 million pounds ($9.6 million) in the year to March 31, up from 6.2 million pounds in 2015, on revenue up 8 percent to 168.1 million pounds.”

Moreover, sales from digital channels increased 19 percent to represent 15 percent of group revenue, while new products, such as the ‘Zipped Bayswater’ handbag, have proven popular.

The sales hikes come after Mulberry’s new creative director Johnny Coca made his debut in February 2016. Following creative director Emma Hill's departure in 2013, the London-based brand, which was founded in 1971, did not appoint a replacement, Coca, until roughly two years later. The result: Years without strong creative leadership and significant drops in profit – raising questions about the brand’s future. However, it seems that Coca, a former Céline design director, might be just what the brand was in need of to shed the gloom of its tumultuous recent past.

As the New York Times’ Elizabeth Paton noted in February, “Mulberry is in the midst of one of the biggest turnaround efforts in British fashion history.” And the returns have been almost immediate. Mulberry reported late last year that its revenues climbed 9.9 percent to 74.5 million pounds, or $102.1 million, immediately following Coca’s debut as creative director.

Mulberry chief executive Thierry Andretta revealed that Coca's inaugural collection was “well-received,” with nine new bags launching in the months that followed. This week, Andretta reflected on the company’s position, saying, "During the year, we have made good progress. Our sales and profits are growing."

It is not a bona fide homerun just yet for the brand, though. Bloomberg has pointed out that Mulberry’s “international business is an area for concern, with 10-week retail sales falling 3 percent on a like-for-like basis.”

Still yet, Andretta seems optimistic, “International remains the focus, and we are still fine-tuning our network.” As for analysts’ outlooks, “Mulberry’s turnaround remains on track,” Barclays analysts Julian Easthope and Julie Zhuang wrote in a note published by Bloomberg. “Real progress has been made on product and factory efficiency, which led to a much higher gross margin than we had expected.”