LONDON — Burberry is putting increased momentum behind its luxury leather goods, buying out its longstanding Italian manufacturer CF&P, WWD has learned.
CF&P employees, including the team of craftsmen who have worked closely with Burberry for more than a decade, will transfer to the company on completion of the transaction, which is expected later this year. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Marco Gobbetti, Burberry’s chief executive officer, called the acquisition a major milestone for the brand and “a statement of our ambition in this strategically important category.” He said the purchase would create a “center of excellence” for Burberry’s leather goods, covering all activities from prototyping, product innovation, engineering and the coordination of production.
“This will give us greater control over quality, cost, delivery and sustainability of our leather goods,” Gobbetti said.
CF&P is based in Scandicci, Italy, a few miles south of Florence, and specializes in the development and manufacture of luxury leather handbags and accessories.
Burberry said its newly acquired operations will remain at the current site, and that the parts of CF&P not included in the transaction will continue to operate as separate entities under the CF&P name, but at a different site.
The new purchase dovetails with Burberry’s effort to refine its leather goods offer from a variety of angles. In March 2017, the British brand hired Sabrina Bonesi as design director for leather goods and shoes, a new role. Bonesi, a leather goods expert who had previously worked for Prada and Dior, is responsible for men’s and women’s bags, shoes and accessories at Burberry.
When he laid out his strategy last November, Gobbetti put great emphasis on his plans for luxury leather goods. He said he sees a major opportunity for building out and upgrading the handbag offer with more and varied product. He also wants to build up footwear, and cross-sell leather accessories with clothes as part of a new strategy to “wardrobe” customers from head-to-toe rather than sell them a single item.
“We have a pretty good leather accessories business for an apparel company, and we’re starting from a position of strength. I expect the leather goods business to grow significantly,” he said in November.
His plan is also to offer a greater breadth of price points and increase the prominence and space dedicated to leather goods in the stores. An upgraded and expanded leather goods offering will also play a big role in boosting Burberry’s retail productivity, an area where it’s been lagging behind its peers.
Burberry’s strategy to take back control of leather goods production is in line with those of some of its competitors.
As reported last year, Compagnie Financière Richemont purchased Serapian, the historic, high-end Milanese accessories brand and leather goods manufacturer that was founded in 1945. Although Richemont didn’t offer up many details about the purchase, it is understood the luxury giant will be taking advantage of the factories to scale up its leather goods production.
Serapian has an atelier in Milan and a factory in Varese. It operates flagships in Milan, Venice, Rome, Los Angeles and Doha.
Burberry’s leather factory acquisition isn’t the only news to emerge from Gobbetti and his team. On Friday, the brand’s new chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci lifted the veil on his vision for the brand, curating a series of looks from the Burberry spring 2019 pre-collection that were designed by the in-house team. Burberry said the 16 looks, which appeared on Burberry’s Instagram Stories, allude to a new aesthetic vision for the brand.
Tisci’s first collection will be revealed during London Fashion Week in September.