Christopher Bailey, responsible for transforming Burberry from a local heritage name to a global fashion powerhouse, is getting out of the trenches.
The company announced on Tuesday that Mr. Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative officer and president, would be leaving at the end of 2018 after 17 years with the brand.
“Burberry has undergone an incredible transformation since 2001 and Christopher has been instrumental to the company’s success in that period,” Marco Gobbetti, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement. “The legacy he leaves and the exceptional talent we have at Burberry give me enormous confidence in our future.”
The decision is a turning point for Burberry, which in March reported annual revenue of 2.78 billion pounds, or $3.66 billion — and for the greater fashion industry, creating a coveted job opening while at the same time reinforcing the turmoil that has rocked the sector during the past two years.
Appointed creative director in 2004 and chief creative officer in 2009, Mr. Bailey positioned Burberry as a conduit of Britishness to the world, working with actors, musicians and artists to push the brand beyond its home market. He also was quick to embrace the digital age, making Burberry among the most-followed FTSE-100 companies on social media. Along with former chief executives Rose-Marie Bravo and Angela Ahrendts, he made Burberry the dominant name at London Fashion Week.
When Mr. Bailey added the role of chief executive in 2014 after Ms. Ahrendts had left, the dual title was a first for a major fashion brand. But growth slowed, and last year Burberry put on hold its plan to open a new factory in Leeds, England.