LONDON — Burberry Group plc sent a clear signal this week about the scale of its ambitions in the digital media arena.
On Thursday, in a shake-up of top management, Burberry named former BBC executive John Smith chief operating officer, a new post. He will report to chief executive officer Angela Ahrendts.
From 2005 to 2012, Smith served as ceo of BBC Worldwide, the commercial subsidiary of the BBC that broadcasts to 350 million subscribers in more than 100 countries.
At the BBC, Smith turned the popular British TV shows “Doctor Who,” “Top Gear” and “Dancing With the Stars” into global franchises. According to Burberry, he also brought the Web site bbc.com into profit a year ahead of schedule and launched the BBC’s new commercial Global iPlayer, an on-demand playback facility, in 16 countries.
Smith has served as a non-executive director on Burberry’s board since December 2009, and he will continue in that capacity until he takes up his new role as an executive director on March 4.
“This is a hugely exciting time to be joining the executive team at Burberry,” Smith said. “From my three years on the board, I understand the significant opportunities that exist for the business globally and the unique culture that drives its performance. Having had the chance to develop one great British brand on the global stage, it is my privilege now to begin a new chapter at another.”
An industry source said it was not surprising that Smith landed the job. “He was always spoken of reverentially within Burberry, and he was the one board member you really heard talked about,” said the source.
Another industry source said, “Burberry has always been very keen on being more than a fashion and luxury company. It is a FTSE 100 company that aims to be an innovator in the digital space and produce content that sells merchandise.”
Burberry has been at the forefront of digital technology innovation in the luxury space, live-streaming its men’s and women’s fashions shows; allowing customers to order online immediately following the runway shows; launching an in-house social networking site, Art of the Trench, and seeking to fuse the online and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences.
Burberry is also in the thick of setting up an in-house beauty business, and digital and mobile media innovations will no doubt be crucial to its success.
Burberry said separately that Stacey Cartwright, the company’s chief financial officer and a prominent, well-regarded member of the brand’s executive team, will step down after nine years to pursue new interests.
She will be succeeded by Carol Fairweather, who has been named cfo-designate with immediate effect and will become cfo after Cartwright’s departure following the annual general meeting in July.
Fairweather has been with Burberry for six years, most recently as senior vice president, group finance.
Yesterday, the Parisian fashion house @azzaro_official cut the ribbon on a temeporary retrospective at the wing of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The exhibition, which shows the lasting influence of the brand’s founder Loris Azzaro, is titled “Azzaro, Fifty Sparkling Years” and presents 50 looks. In it’s ’70s heyday, fans of the brand included Jane Birkin, pictured here, Raquel Welch, Brigitte Bardot and more. See more photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@trinaturk and @macys Inc International Concepts line are linking up on a collection for summer — filled with accessories, swimwear and shoes. The collection will also include a Mr Turk men’s line, both of which are the designer’s first entry into a more accessibly priced area. “It’s very world-traveler, gypset-inspired,” said Turk. The Trina Turk x INC line will launch on May 15th. #wwdfashion
Assouline is paying homage to the late Azzedine Alaïa with a reprint of "Alaïa Livre de Collection.” The book is comprised of photographs of the designer's summer 1992 runway show with models Christy Turlington Burns, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks, pictured here at right. #wwdfashion #alaia #tyrabanks
Fall 2018 accessories take on a painterly hue, with Nebulas Blue among Pantone’s top 10 colors of the season. (📸: @jonghyupstudio ; editor: @twallz21 ; stylist and set designer: @haideefindlaylevin ) #wwdaccessories
@americanapparelusa is relaunching the brand outside of the U.S. today, opening its online store to more than 200 countries. The company is also contemplating a return to brick-and-mortar, though details have not been confirmed. In tandem with the expanded distribution is a recasting of a social media ad campagn, called “Back to Basics,” pictured here, with a focus on diversity and a cast of models above the age of 21. Read more on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Exclusive: @britneyspears is continuing to expand her brand. The pop icon, who appears in @kenzo ’s latest campaign, is partnering with Epic Rights to launch a line of branded merchandise. Read @hernameislex ‘s story, link in bio. #wwdnews #britneyspears
The Duchess of Cambridge channeled Princess Diana’s look upon giving birth to Prince Harry, when she and the Duke of Cambridge departed the hospital with the new baby Prince this afternoon in London. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge
The new Prince of Cambridge has arrived! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posed with the 8-pound newborn. She wore a look from one of her go-to designers, @jennypackham. Tap link in bio for more. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge