20 October 2021

Burberry hires Versace boss as its new chief executive

20 October 2021

Luxury fashion group Burberry has named Gianni Versace boss Jonathan Akeroyd as its new chief executive.

Mr Akeroyd, 54, will take up the post on April 1 next year with a “golden hello” worth around £6 million in deferred cash and shares in lieu of bonuses he has forfeited on leaving Versace.

He replaces Marco Gobbetti, who in June announced unexpected plans to quit after nearly five years in the role.

Mr Gobbetti leaves at the end of the year to head up Italian rival Salvatore Ferragamo.

Jonathan Akeroyd will join Burberry in April next year (Burberry/PA)

Chairman Gerry Murphy will lead Burberry on an interim basis until Mr Akeroyd joins next April.

Mr Akeroyd has headed up Milan-based fashion house Gianni Versace since 2016, before which he was chief executive of Alexander McQueen for 12 years, helping lead a turnaround of the group.

The British national has also previously held a number of senior fashion roles at London’s luxury department store Harrods.

Burberry revealed that alongside the mammoth buyout award, Mr Akeroyd’s pay package includes a £1.1 million annual salary plus cash benefits of £50,000, as well as a potential bonus worth up to £2.2 million and long-term incentive share awards worth a possible £1.8 million.

Mr Akeroyd said he was “honoured” to be taking the helm at Burberry.

He 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.”

Mr Murphy added: “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.”

Mr Akeroyd joins Burberry as it emerges after a tough time during the pandemic, which saw stores closed for many months and European outlets suffering from the lack of international tourists.

In the UK, around two-thirds of sales came from tourists, which have largely been absent throughout the pandemic.

The company also suffered over the stance of the Better Cotton Initiative, of which it is a member, after the group raised concerns over allegations of forced labour camps in the Xinjiang cotton region of China.

But recent figures revealed sales returned to pre-pandemic levels in the three months to June 26 as it sold more products at full price and relied less on discounts.

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