Burberry poaches Versace boss in bid to accelerate growth

Burberry poaches Versace boss as the iconic British fashion giant moves to accelerate growth

  • Jonathan Akeroyd is to replace Marco Gobbetti in April next year
  • The ex-Alexander McQueen boss will rake in an annual salary of more than £1m

Burberry Group has hired the chief executive of Milan-based Gianni Versace, Jonathan Akeroyd, who will join next year tasked with accelerating the British fashion giant’s growth prospects.

Luxury goods expert Akeroyd has led the Italian fashion group since 2016, in which time he has reorganised and accelerated growth, ‘building on the brand’s rich creative heritage to elevate product, communications and the customer experience’, Burberry said.

Investors reacted badly to news in June of current Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti’s impending exit at the end of this year, but markets have responded positively to his replacement in early trading.

Burberry shares were badly hit by news of CEO Marco Gobbetti’s exit but investors have reacted positively with regard to his replacement

Akeroyd was CEO of Alexander McQueen from 2004 to 2016, during which time he led a turnaround of the British luxury brand and laid the foundation for global expansion.

Upon joining Burberry in April next year, Akeroyd will rake in an annual salary of £1,100,000 and an annual cash benefits allowance of £50,000.

He will also be eligible for target-based bonuses worth up to 200 per cent of his salary, in addition to a Burberry share plan award of 162.5 per cent of his salary.

His pension entitlement will align with arrangements for the majority of the UK workforce, Burberry said, but Akeroyd will also be granted cash and share awards in each of the next four years to ‘compensate for share and cash incentives from his current employer that he will forfeit on joining Burberry’.

The aggregate value of the buyout awards is approximately £6million.

Burberry sales returned to pre-pandemic levels during the summer, buoyed by campaigns partnering with celebrity model Kendall Jenner, who helped pull in ‘new, younger luxury customers’.

It had been badly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with sales down across the world, including lucrative luxury goods markets like China.

Burberry shares are up by around 1.8 per cent in early trading to 1,863.5p, bringing the stock’s year-to-date performance to 2.3 per cent.

Chair of Burberry Gerry Murphy said Akeroyd ‘is an experienced leader with a strong track record in building global luxury fashion brands and driving profitable growth’.

He added: ‘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.’

Akeroyd said: ‘I have long admired Burberry’s position as the most iconic British luxury brand and I have a deep affection for its storied heritage.

‘I am looking forward to returning to London where I first built my career in the luxury industry to join a talented team with ambitious plans for the future and a strong platform to accelerate growth.’

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