Christopher Bailey will step down from his role as chief creative office of Burberry next March, following a 17 year tenure with the British brand. After joining Burberry in 2001, and working with former CEO Angela Ahrendts (and taking up her post when she left for Apple in 2014), Bailey oversaw the 161-year old company’s transformation from a British heritage brand known for its outerwear into a fashion house with runway credentials and demand amongst consumers across the globe.
Bailey’s departure late next year will come after what Bloomberg calls “an unusual power-sharing arrangement” following the arrival of Marco Gobbetti, who took over as CEO in July after leaving LVMH’s Celine. Bailey stepped back from his joint CEO/chief creative role this year while working with the new CEO and maintaining his influence over the brand’s creative output. “We will work hand in hand,” Bailey told Bloomberg TV when Gobbetti’s appointment was announced in 2016.
Per Reuters, “Bailey’s exit will enable new chief executive, Marco Gobbetti, to revamp Burberry’s creative direction as well as its operations.”
Burberry said Bailey had decided it was now time to pursue new projects after he helped turn the company into a global brand worth more than 8 billion pounds. He will step down from his board positions of president and chief creative officer at the end of March, but would support Gobbetti until December 31, 2018.
A creative successor for Bailey has not yet been named, although the timing of rumors that Phoebe Philo is set to leave Celine are certainly curious, especially given her known desire to work from London (as opposed to Paris), in order to be closer to her family, including her three young children. It would also serve as a reunion of Philo and Gobbetti, who was CEO for much of her tenure at the Paris-based brand.
As for what Bailey will do next, an announcement has not been made. However, the Evening Standard is reporting that the 42-year old has already secured a job at Ralph Lauren, which is why he agreed to waive up to £16 million in bonuses. Per the Standard, this “would unlikely be the case unless he already had a new gig lined up.” Neither Burberry nor Ralph Lauren would comment.