British luxury brand Burberry announced yesterday (October 20) that Jonathan Akeroyd will be its next incoming chief executive. He will be succeeding Marco Gobbetti, who will be leaving the company at the end of the year. Akeroyd will step into his new role next April.
Akeroyd is currently the CEO of the Italian fashion house Versace, a role he took on in June 2016. During his five-year tenure, Akeroyd has, according to a press release by Burberry, “reorganised and accelerated growth at the iconic Italian fashion house, building on the brand’s rich creative heritage to elevate product, communications and the customer experience”. This eventually caught the attention of Capri Holdings, and Versace was then sold to Capri Holdings for US$2.1 billion in 2018.
After Versace’s acquisition, Akeroyd continued to focus on positioning the brand upmarket. A similar strategy that Gobbetti has undertaken for Burberry. What this entails is the streamlining of Versace’s product offerings — doing away with lower-priced diffusion lines, introducing new signature prints and expanding its accessories category. Under Akeroyd’s leadership, the revenue for Versace grew by 20 per cent.
Commenting on how Akeryod’s experience at Versace is similar to that of Burberry, a note from the Bank of America said, “[Akeryod’s] focus at Versace overlaps nicely with the brand elevation strategy of Burberry, with many of the same plans already having being implemented, this potentially reduces the risk of a ‘kitchen sink’ when he joins.”
Prior to leading the Milan-based fashion house, Akeryod was also the chief executive of another British luxury brand, Alexander McQueen. He held on to the position for more than a decade and guided the brand through its tumultuous periods such as the death of its eponymous founder, Lee Alexander McQueen in 2010.
With extensive experience in the luxury sphere, Akeryod is poised to take up his new position at Burberry and continue boosting profile margins. His predecessor’s efforts are starting to bear fruits but analysts are citing that Burberry’s performance is still “well-below” compared to its peers.
Luxury analyst Luca Solca from Bernstein commented that “[Akeryod’s] has earned significant experience at Kering and at Capri. He was successful in making Alexander McQueen one of the most vibrant brands within Kering, despite the loss of the eponymous designer in 2010. His experience seems relevant, as Burberry’s position in the market is somewhere in between the high-end European luxury brands and the more commercially focused American accessible luxury brands. We believe it is important that Burberry appoints a ‘merchant’ as CEO, an executive with strong commercial and marketing skills.”
Gerry Murphy, Chair of Burberry commented: “I am delighted that Jonathan Akeroyd will be joining Burberry as our next Chief Executive Officer. Jonathan is an experienced leader with a strong track record in building global luxury fashion brands and driving profitable growth. He shares our values and our ambition to build on Burberry’s unique British creative heritage and his deep luxury and fashion industry expertise will be key to advancing the next phase of Burberry’s evolution.”
In accepting the new role as the chief executive of Burberry, Akeryod said he has long admired the brand’s position “as the most iconic British luxury brand” while also holding admiration for its storied heritage.
Coming over from Versace, Akeryod is given a substantial financial package, including cash and shares awards amounting to £6 million over the next four years to cover incentives forfeited by his departure. Akeroyd will receive an annual salary of £1.1 million, alongside a £50,000 annual cash benefits allowance and the possibility of millions more in bonuses.
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