In Christopher Bailey’s first television interview since being replaced as Burberry CEO  by Marco Gobbetti, he talks to Bloomberg Television’s Francine Lacqua about his involvement in finding a new CEO, Burberry’s strategy and Brexit’s impact on the company.

Burberry’s stock has fallen almost 25% in the past 12 months; shares jumped as much as 7.2 percent on the news this morning.

Christopher Bailey says:

  • “I led the whole search for Marco.”
  • “I certainly didn’t start out a search looking for a CEO, but the more I met different people, and when I first finally met with Marco, I started talking about a partnership –  it just felt that I would love to get Marco into the company, and it just evolved from there.”
  • “Change is good.” “I’ve always been a big believer in moving forward.”
  • “I knew Marco by reputation, but then we have gotten to know each other very very well, over the last months, so no, we didn’t know each other before we started, before I started this process.”
  • “We will work kind of hand in hand, and then we will have shared responsibility for strategy and the cultural people side of the company.”
  • The strategy does not change. Marco has naturally kept abreast of all the work and the business review that I’ve been doing, that I kind of formally started in January at the beginning of this year. “He’s clearly supportive of what we’ve been doing, and that business review led to me taking a very pragmatic thoughtful view of the skills that we have in the organization, how we would need to be organized for the future, and what skills we needed to bring into the organization.”
  • “With Brexit – it’s certainly not a decision that I wanted, or believed in, but it is what it is, and I’m always a glass half full, and we now need to move on.”
  • “You know a weaker pound helps in certain ways, but we have always done business globally, we trade all around the world, and any trading agreement is something that we would always work with.”

Ex Burberry CEO Christopher Bailey's First TV Interview Since Departure

Burberry’s Christopher Bailey on Handing Over the Reins to Gobbetti

Story Link.

Transcript:

1. What an announcement, what a surprise, were you helping to look for a new CEO?

Bailey: “Yeah, I mean I have led the whole search for Marco, you know I spoke to our board, quite a while ago, about all the opportunities and identifying all the opportunities that we had ahead of us. And that I wanted to address the skills we needed, in order to execute on those… Eh, I certainly didn’t start out a search looking for a CEO, but the more I met different people, and when I first finally met with Marco, I started talking about a partnership, it just felt that I would love to get Marco into the company, and it just evolved from there.”

2. Are you relieved that you no longer have the CEO duties?

You know I’m still am going to be leading our company, it’s a partnership, a role that we both have collaborating very closely together. I don’t see it as a relief, you know I have Burberry going through my veins, it is an evolution of my role into the evolution of the company, it’s an evolution for Marco, I am completely delighted that Marco will be joining us, he is an extraordinary man, with a wealthy of experience, that I think we need in our company, and I’m just looking forward to working very closely with him.

3. Did you know him before?

I knew Marco by reputation, but then we have gotten to know each other very very well, over the last months, so no, we didn’t know each other before we started, before I started this process.

4. Are you expecting the strategy to change in any way? You’ll be President, he’s CEO, … Creative?

Yeah, absolutely, you know my role, of course my new role will be overall creative, design, marketing, communications, aspects of the company, and Marco will be over commercial, finance, operations. But we will work kind of hand in hand, and then we will have shared responsibility for strategy and the cultural people side of the company. As any kind of strong partnership is and should be, it will be based on respect and working collaboratively together.

5. It’s the great Burberry experiment, that the industry was looking at: is it possible to be chief creative designer and CEO?

Yes, I mean… I don’t class it as an experiment, you know. The way that we’ve always run our business is in a very dynamic way. I think if you just look 16 years ago, and before we were public, we were a predominantly licensed business, we have evolved quickly over those 15, 16 years, you know from… Into a wholesale business, the into retail, now into an omni channel and we will continue to evolve our organization. I don’t put too much focus on what a title means, I put the focus on being a leader, in a company and I have always been very privileged to be leading in this company. With or without a CEO title. It wasn’t kind of a big decision for me whether I had a CEO title or not.

6. But the strategy doesn’t change?

The strategy does not change. You know, I have naturally. Marco has naturally kept at rest all the…  the work and the business review that I’ve been doing, that I kind of formally started in January at the beginning of this year, he has naturally been seen what we’ve been doing and hearing, we’ve been very public about those things, he’s clearly supportive of what we’ve been doing, and that business review led to me taking a very pragmatic thoughtful view of the skills that we have in the organisation, how we would need to be organised for the future, and what skills we needed to bring into the organisation.

7. Christopher, you’re probably the champion of UK design, and all things UK in general. Have the last couple of weeks been tough?

With Brexit, you know, it’s certainly not a decision that I wanted, or believed in, but it is what it is, and I’m always a glass half full, and we now need to move on, it was… The referendum was done in a… In the right way, the decision was made, but now we need to find the right path, to what a Brexit might mean, the important thing is getting stability, and getting some clarity on the future that affects people’s everyday lives, and of course businesses.

8. Burberry is probably the most famous and best British export. So a weaker pound helps?

You know a weaker pound helps in certain ways, but we have always done business globally, we trade all around the world, and any trading agreement is something that we would always work with. No matter where… You know, what happens throughout this process.

9. One last question on September, this is the very first time you can click and buy directly from the catwalk? What’s your vision?

The September show is really a changing the way we’re treating and thinking about the show. Historically the shows have been very much an insider event for press and the media, and of course all of our buyers. The way that we flipped it is that we’ve been doing very intimate private previews, with our buyers and some of the long lead press, and then in September it will be much more customer focused, and you will be able to buy the collection immediately as soon as we do that show. But.. I’m very excited… I… Going back to our earlier conversation, change is good, evolution is good, we have to… It’s interesting, Thomas Burberry our founder, he had the insignia on the flag on his knight, that says Prorsum, which means, which is Latin for to move forward. I’ve always been a big believer in moving forward, and I’m excited about the changes both on an executive level but also in September of this year.”

Francine: Thank you so much for you time.