ROME — Surprise and speed are two key elements on Michael Burke’s agenda to further grow Bulgari.
“Not for lack of strategy before, but I thought we could [be] faster. I come from an industry where the definition of speed is different,” said Burke, chief executive officer of the Italian jeweler, during an interview here last week, when the firm revealed that it was donating $20 million to Save the Children — the largest fund-raising donation in the history of the luxury goods sector.
While stressing the strength of Bulgari, Burke conceded that, when he became ceo in February, the firm had “suffered from being a single-brand, public company. Now, with the power of LVMH behind it, it’s forward-looking and risk-taking.”
The initiative was launched in 2009 under then-ceo Francesco Trapani to celebrate Bulgari’s 125th anniversary. Last year, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton took control of Bulgari in a cash-and-share swap valued at more than $6 billion and Trapani became head of LVMH’s jewelry and watches division. A group veteran, the affable and eloquent Burke previously headed Fendi, which was successfully turned around, transforming it from a family-owned firm into a profitable, professionally run business.
The impact of Burke on Bulgari was first seen in September, when the company returned to the Biennale des Antiquaires exhibition in Paris, where the brand presented 100 styles on bold white porcelain sculptures — a true novelty, noted Burke.
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