Can Burberry’s Daniel Lee help the brand catch up to Gucci? The former Bottega Venetta icon just replaced Riccardo Tisci as creative director as the British luxury brand’s sales drop below its rivals
Burberry’s new chief executive Jonathan Akeroyd is due to set out his plan to finish the job started by his predecessor – boosting growth at the British luxury brand to the levels of its European rivals.
Burberry has lagged behind competitors like Gucci, Prada and Loewe in creating a sharp brand in recent years, and Lee will play an “important part in re-igniting interest”, said Mario Ortelli, managing partner at advisory firm Ortelli&Co.
Lee, who was previously at Kering’s Bottega Veneta, should focus on strengthening its runway, streetwear and menswear collections to appeal to younger consumers, said Ortelli.
That group is expected to buoy growth in the sector in the coming years with purchases being made from the age of 15, according to industry forecasts from consultancy Bain.
The company’s former chief executive Marco Gobbetti set out a plan in 2018 to reposition the brand, known for its camel, red and black check, firmly in the luxury segment.
He raised prices, limited distribution to its own shops and high-end department stores and cut discounting. Tisci, in turn, changed Burberry’s design language by introducing a TB monogram, that increased the brand’s appeal to younger luxury consumers.
The final stages of Burberry’s five-year plan were expected to see an acceleration in revenue growth and an increase in profits. But the Covid-19 pandemic thwarted that aim, with lockdowns closing stores and travel restrictions preventing tourists from Asia and elsewhere spending in Paris and London.
The label eked out a one per cent rise in comparable store sales in its quarter ending July 2.
LVMH’s fashion and leather goods division, home to Louis Vuitton and Dior, reported a 22 per cent rise in sales on a comparable basis, while Kering’s sales rose 14 per cent, although revenue at its star label Gucci rose 9 per cent, missing market forecasts of 11 per cent.
Lee’s appointment could signal a re-evaluation of Burberry’s British heritage, according to Lydia Slater, editor in chief at fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar.
“Lee’s interpretation of that heritage is likely to be the opposite of conventional, given the iconoclastic way he transformed Bottega Veneta from a discreet luxury brand into a cult, directional label,” she said.
The Bradford-born designer became famous for reinvigorating the Italian brand by blowing up its famous intrecciato weave in bags and shoes and creating one of the most popular colours of 2021, dubbed “Bottega Green”.
Akeroyd has a track record of turning around established brands such as Alexander McQueen and Versace, analysts say.
“Over the longer term, brand reinvigoration should help keep fashion fans loyal and Burberry’s products increasingly coveted,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
- As Burberry lags behind competitors Gucci and Prada, the 166-year-old British brand’s new CEO Jonathan Akeroyd hopes to switch things up with new hire Daniel Lee
- Louis Vuitton’s parent company LVMH reported a 22 per cent sales increase in the second quarter, and Gucci’s rose 9 per cent – but Burberry’s only saw one per cent