In a surprise announcement, Burberry said on Monday that CEO Marco Gobbetti is to leave the luxury company at the end of the year. The man who’s been in charge during a five-year transformational period for the group is taking up another opportunity “that will enable him to return to Italy and be closer to his family”. It’s not yet known what his new role will be.
Gobbetti took over from joint create chief and CEO Christopher Bailey nearly five years ago and created a new, more upmarket strategy, working closely with new creative director Riccardo Tisci.
The company said it’s now starting the search for a successor. Gobbetti is going to be working with chairman Gerry Murphy in the the interim “to provide full support to the executive leadership team on an orderly transition” but it’s clearly going to be an uncertain period for the firm.
Burberry is bouncing back and continuing its Gobbetti-driven strategy post-pandemic and there’s likely to be no shortage of executives eager to run it. But leaders with the experience and ability to head such a major luxury business don’t come along every day. As mentioned, Burberry said it expects Gobbetti will stay on until the end of the calendar year. But there’s a chance any new pick could have an extensive lock-in period in their current role that may extend into 2022. One option could be for an internal candidate to step up, but so far, there’s no hint of where Burberry might be looking to replace Gobbetti.