CHAIRMAN SOUGHT FOR BURBERRY?
Byline: James Fallon
LONDON — Burberry might be looking for a new chairman to help shepherd its stock market flotation.
According to reports in the British press, Burberry’s parent, Great Universal Stores PLC, has appointed headhunters Spencer Stuart to develop a short list of candidates for a new nonexecutive chairman of Burberry. The person would replace Burberry’s existing chairman Victor Barnett, 68.
Spokesmen for G.U.S. and Spencer Stuart declined to comment on the reports. The G.U.S. spokesman repeated the group will make no comment on Burberry until it reports its year-end results in June. As reported, G.U.S. plans to float up to 25 percent of Burberry within the next 18 months. The flotation is expected to value the luxury company at up to $3 billion.
Barnett also heads the North American activities of G.U.S. and the group reportedly believes Burberry needs a chairman who has no other links to the group. Barnett has been central to the development of Burberry into one of the hottest luxury goods brands over the last three years. He helped recruit Rose Marie Bravo from Saks Fifth Avenue as the company’s chief executive.
Bravo has credited Barnett with renegotiating Burberry’s license in Japan with Mitsui to improve the financial benefits to Burberry and give it more control. He also negotiated Burberry’s purchase of its Spanish licensee last June and did the deals for the sites for the company’s flagship store in New Bond Street here and for its new expanded flagship on 57th Street in New York, which will open in 2002.
Burberry has been one of the standout performers at G.U.S. over the last year. As reported, the company had a 35 percent increase in sales at constant exchange rates in the third quarter ended Jan. 6, excluding Burberry Spain.