Burberry CFO and COO Julie Brown steps down

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Julie Brown, Burberry’s Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer, will step down from her role in April 2023 and begin a search for a successor.

Brown joined Burberry in 2017 from UK medical device manufacturer Smith & Nephew, where she was CFO. She played a key role in navigating the luxury fashion brand through the pandemic. In May, Burberry reported a 23% rise in annual sales to £2.83 billion for FY2022. She is leaving the company to “pursue an opportunity outside the luxury industry,” the company said in a statement.

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Britishness is at the core of the new Burberry CEO’s plans

Jonathan Akeroyd, in his first appearance since being appointed CEO in March, identified brand enhancement, product innovation and a robust retail network as his top three priorities at the British luxury house.

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The news, which sent Burberry’s share price down nearly 4 percent in morning trade, comes six months after the arrival of new CEO Jonathan Akeroyd. More changes are expected in the C-suite: rumors are circulating that Akeroyd is seeking a new chief creative officer to replace Riccardo Tisci, whose contract expires in early 2023.

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Still, analysts were surprised by Brown’s exit. “While not an industry insider, Julie definitely has credit for fostering an unwavering focus on cost efficiency,” said Luca Solca, senior analyst at consulting firm Bernstein, in a note. “This departure adds to Jonathan Akeroyd’s to-do list as media reports say he is also looking to hire a new creative director. We believe that Burberry could benefit from a new and more original creative energy. However, the departure of the CFO at this point appears to be quite a setback.”

Flavio Cereda, MD and analyst at financial services firm Jeffries, writes, “No reasons were given for her decision to leave the group she joined six years ago, but it means another clean slate for new CEO Jonathan Akeroyd ahead of its strategic presentation (reboot) in November.”

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“Julie has played a key role in positioning Burberry for growth, backed by a high caliber team,” Akeroyd said in a statement.

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