LONDON – Julie Brown, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Burberry, who joined the company in 2017 and helped it through Brexit and the COVID-19 crisis, is stepping down early next year.
Burberry said Brown was leaving “to seize an opportunity outside of the luxury industry”, adding that the process of identifying Brown’s successor was ongoing and further updates would be revealed in due course.
Burberry shares fell 3.7% to 16.54 pounds by mid-morning after the announcement. The overall FTSE index is also down as Prime Minister Liz Truss’ government unveiled sweeping tax cuts on Friday morning.
The announcements rattled financial markets, which still have to contend with steep interest rate hikes, a looming recession and a falling pound.
Burberry confirmed on Friday that Brown would leave on April 1, 2023, which is the company’s fiscal year-end.
Brown was originally hired by Burberry’s former CEO and chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey, and her dual role as COO and CFO was new. His work was important and his salary was lower than that of the CEO.
Brown’s exit comes amid an impending change on the corporate and creative side at Burberry.
Burberry’s new CEO, Jonathan Akeroyd, is due to present his strategy for the company in November, and questions continue to hang over the future of creative director Riccardo Tisci, whose contract expires early next year.
Tisci will present its Spring 2023 collection on Monday and speculation is rife that it will be his last for the brand.
Rumors have swirled that Daniel Lee, the former head of design at Bottega Veneta, could be Tisci’s successor designer. Burberry said it does not comment on speculation.
Gerry Murphy, President of Burberry, said Brown has made a “significant contribution to the transformation of Burberry, including her pivotal role in achieving our sustainability ambitions. Julie has built a strong financial foundation for the next chapter of Burberry’s growth under Jonathan’s leadership.
Akeroyd said Brown “has been key in positioning Burberry for growth, backed by a great quality team. I want to personally thank her for the support she has given me since I arrived six months. I look forward to building on the solid foundation we have in place to realize the full potential of Burberry.
Brown added that during his tenure, the group “strengthened the brand and the business and took an industry-leading position in sustainability. I am especially proud of our work in guiding Burberry through the pandemic. , staying true to our values and delivering transformational change in finance, IT, Burberry business services and accountability,” she said.
Brown, whose role has played in finance, investor relations, IT, global business services and business transformation, has been a key asset to Burberry over the past six years.
Alongside the company’s former CEO, Marco Gobbetti, she helped guide Burberry through the maze of costly post-Brexit trade and compliance regulations.
Under his watch, Burberry also offered advice to the UK government as the Brexit deal with the EU was being worked on, and supplied PPE to NHS hospitals during the pandemic, making masks and medical gowns in its trench coat factories in Yorkshire.
As reported, Burberry won a £573,000 government contract in September 2020 to make dresses and PPE.
The deal was in addition to more than 160,000 pieces of PPE that Burberry was making at its trench coat factory in Castleford, Yorkshire, and donating to NHS and healthcare charities at the start of COVID. -19.
Prior to joining Burberry, Brown served as chief financial officer of medical technology firm Smith & Nephew plc.