NEW YORK — Brian Blake, Burberry Group plc’s president worldwide and chief operating officer, could be leaving his post soon, according to industry sources.
Blake’s apparent decision comes just two days after Burberry named Angela Ahrendts, currently executive vice president of Liz Claiborne Inc., chief executive officer replacing Rose Marie Bravo. Ahrendts will take up her new post in July, when Bravo becomes Burberry’s vice-chairman.
A Burberry spokesman on Thursday denied that Blake was leaving the company.
Although Blake appeared to be the obvious successor to Bravo, he was never actually in the running for the ceo’s job. As reported, Blake requested that he not be considered for the role due to family circumstances.
Blake also sits on Burberry’s three-person executive board, which includes Bravo and Stacey Cartwright, the company’s chief financial officer. Bravo has described this board as “the nucleus” of the company.
Bravo has, in the past, referred to Blake as a “phenomenal team player” with as much decision-making power as some ceo’s at other companies.
Since he joined Burberry in spring 2004, Blake has been reorganizing the company’s complex Asian operations, and restructuring its licensing and distribution agreements in Japan.
Before joining Burberry, he was part of the management team that helped turn around and relaunch Gucci Group.
His last job at Gucci Group was executive vice president, and he also served as chief executive of Boucheron. He was among the top managers to follow Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford out the door after PPR took over the company.
Blake had been with Gucci since 1987, holding various positions, including president of Gucci America and president and ceo of the Gucci division. In February 2003, he replaced Massimo Macchi, who stepped down as Boucheron chief.