MILAN — Marco Gobbetti is joining Burberry earlier than expected, but not as chief executive officer.
The company said Monday that Gobbetti, whose appointment as ceo was revealed last summer, will join the company on Jan. 27, and initially hold the role of executive chairman, Asia-Pacific and Middle East until July 4.
On July 5, he will become ceo and will join the board on that date. The company did not clarify why Gobbetti would take on the executive chairman role this month. He will report to Burberry chairman Sir John Peace.
Burberry stock edged up 0.5 percent to 16.19 pounds, or $19.72, at 10:10 a.m. CET on Monday.
Burberry said Bailey will continue as chief creative and ceo until July. He will transition to the new role of president and chief creative officer on July 5, and will remain on the board. As reported, he will continue to report to Peace.
Last July, Burberry said Bailey would hand over the ceo reins to Gobbetti, who held a similar position at Céline. At the time, Burberry said Gobbetti would join Burberry at some point in 2017 but didn’t give an exact date.
The company, which is set to release its third-quarter figures later this week, most recently said Gobbetti would join as ceo “by the summer.”
Gobbetti’s appointment was only one of the major changes the company revealed by Burberry last year. It has also hired Julie Brown as chief operating officer and chief financial officer, and she will join on Wednesday. Brown was formerly cfo at the U.K. medical technology company Smith and Nephew plc.
The moves are part of the company’s plans to simplify its operations, cut costs and shift the retail focus away from tourists to locals and a younger, digitally engaged fan base.
The brand is also seeking to slim down its vast offer. Burberry is planning to merchandise and promote seasonal products in a clearer way in store, with a focus on key products that best represent the mood of the runway collections, and cater to local climates and clientele.
“I knew that we needed to evolve our organization, our structure, the ways of working, the processes. I knew that I needed to bring somebody in to partner with me because there’s a lot of change going on — in the macro, our industry and also in the company. I just took the process in a very, very thoughtful way,” Bailey said at the time.
Bailey said Gobbetti — who was a rising star at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton — has “an innate sense of getting a creative vision into a global store environment. He knows how to build stores and make them productive and to take a creative vision and take them into a retail experience.”
Of their respective roles, Bailey added: “I will focus more specifically on design, the products, creativity, architecture, marketing, communication, experiences. He will focus more on the operational side, finance, retail and merchandising. I see this really as two pieces working together. We will jointly lead all the strategies and people.”
Gobbetti had been ceo at Céline since 2008, arriving in tandem with creative director Phoebe Philo and engineering a swift rejuvenation and overhaul of the brand. He has not yet been replaced in the role.
Gobbetti’s successor at Céline has yet to be named and Pierre-Yves Roussel, chairman and ceo of LVMH Fashion Group, is acting as interim ceo, as he has done as a stopgap at other brands under his preview.
These include Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Kenzo, Loewe, Pucci, Nicholas Kirkwood and J.W. Anderson. Ceo’s at those fashion houses report to Roussel.
According to sources, LVMH is leaning toward an internal solution for Céline, drawing on its deep reserve of management talent across brands that also include Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Berluti.
Roussel recently reinforced management at Céline by tapping Nathalie Marrec from Yves Saint Laurent to head up accessories, the linchpin category for the French brand.
Marrec took up some of the responsibilities previously handled by Pascale Lepoivre, who managed the entire product operation at Céline before Roussel appointed her ceo of Loewe last September.