Burberry on Thursday announced the appointment of Riccardo Tisci as chief creative officer, replacing Christopher Bailey, effective March 12. Based at Burberry’s London headquarters in London, he will direct all Burberry collections and present his first for the brand in September, according to a company press release.
Tisci is a critically acclaimed designer, the retailer said, with expertise across womenswear, menswear, leather goods and accessories. He spent more than a decade at Givenchy, where he was creative director from 2005 to 2017, according to the release.
Burberry in October announced Bailey’s departure after 17 years with the company "to pursue new creative projects.” Bailey had taken on a dual role as Burberry’s CEO and chief creative officer in May 2014, but stepped down from the CEO role last year to focus on design. He had been with the company since 2001, and began serving as creative director in 2004.
Several analysts had come to see Bailey's dual role as problematic and began calling for Burberry to appoint a more experienced executive to assist him as the retailer struggled with slowing demand in Asia and the unique challenges of luxury e-commerce. In 2016 the company answered that call with the appointment of Marco Gobbetti, formerly chairman and CEO of French luxury brand Céline. In a statement on Thursday, Gobbetti called Tisci "one of the most talented designers of our time."
"His designs have an elegance that is contemporary and his skill in blending streetwear with high fashion is highly relevant to today’s luxury consumer," he said. "Riccardo’s creative vision will reinforce the ambitions we have for Burberry and position the brand firmly in luxury.”
The market reacted positively to Burberry’s announcement. "Riccardo Tisci, a graduate of London’s Central Saint Martins, will be able to breathe new life into the company and bring a fresh perspective to the luxury British brand," GlobalData Retail analyst Charlotte Pearce told Retail Dive in an email. "With six months to go before Tisci presents his first show for Burberry in September, he will have time to firmly establish himself in the business and lay out his creative vision for the renowned brand."
Tisci will take on the brand's creative direction in the midst of a turnaround plan announced in November that entails changes to product, communications and customer experience. As part of that effort, Burberry says it will rationalize non-luxury wholesale and retail doors (essentially a pullback from department stores), with an initial emphasis first on the U.S. and then in Europe, Middle East, India and Africa that will include refurbishing stores and enhancing luxury services.
At the center of the revamp will be more luxury leather goods and accessories to attract new customers and simplified ranges, according to a company press release. The brand also promised to be "bold" in engaging with luxury customers, relying on its digital reach, which brand intelligence firm L2 has consistently ranked among the most effective of the luxury brands.
The effort will take time and resources, and Burberry warned that "there will be a period of transition as we implement our strategy, during which we expect to remain strongly cash generative and are committed to our capital allocation framework" that will prevent sales growth until 2021.
Under former CEO Angela Ahrendts (now Apple's senior vice president of retail), Bailey was instrumental in reviving the Burberry brand after the company over-extended itself with lower-priced merchandise stamped with its iconic plaid. That strength regained under Bailey's guidance will remain after his departure, according to earlier comments from Pearce emailed to Retail Dive.