Jonathan Akeroyd Named CEO of Burberry

·4 min read

LONDON — Versace chief executive officer Jonathan Akeroyd is returning home to the U.K., taking the top job at Burberry, the British company said Wednesday.

Akeroyd, 54, will succeed Marco Gobbetti, who was named CEO of Salvatore Ferragamo earlier this year. He will join Burberry on April 1.

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Gerry Murphy, chairman of Burberry, described Akeroyd as “an experienced leader with a strong track record in building global luxury fashion brands, and driving profitable growth. He shares our values and our ambition to build on Burberry’s unique British creative heritage and his deep luxury and fashion industry expertise will be key to advancing the next phase of Burberry’s evolution.”

Akeroyd said he has long admired Burberry, and has “a deep affection for its storied heritage. I am looking forward to returning to London, where I first built my career in the luxury industry, to join a talented team with ambitious plans for the future and a strong platform to accelerate growth.”

Akeroyd will report to Murphy, and the board of directors. As reported, Gobbetti will leave his post at the end of the year. Murphy will chair the executive committee until Akeroyd joins in April.

Burberry shares rose 1.3 percent to 18.54 pounds on the London Stock Exchange in early morning trading on Wednesday.

Burberry confirmed that Akeroyd will earn an annual salary of 1.1 million pounds, with an annual cash benefits allowance of 50,000 pounds. He will also be eligible for a target bonus between 100 percent and 200 percent of his salary, and a Burberry Share Plan award amounting to 162.5 percent of his salary.

His pension entitlement will align with arrangements for the majority of the U.K. workforce, and he will also be granted cash and share awards to compensate for incentives from his current employer that he will forfeit on joining Burberry.

The aggregate value of the buyout awards is approximately 6 million pounds. Full details are set to be disclosed in Burberry’s 2021-22 annual report.

Akeroyd served as CEO of Alexander McQueen from 2004 to 2016, and before that, he held a number of senior fashion roles at Harrods.

“I am a merchant, basically,” he told WWD in a 2018 interview.

He helped restore Versace to the black during his tenure at the Italian company, and also oversaw an eventful period at the house, which was sold to Capri Holdings during his tenure.

Akeroyd, who succeeded Gian Giacomo Ferraris at Versace also navigated the Italian company through months of chatter as Riccardo Tisci, and later Kim Jones, were said to be joining the company.

In the end, neither deal materialized but Akeroyd will now be working closely with Tisci, who is Burberry’s chief creative officer.

Last month, the executive also worked with Jones as part of a one-off, fashion swap collection between Versace and Fendi, dubbed “Fendace.” Donatella Versace designed a Fendi collection while Jones, Fendi’s artistic director, did the same with Versace.

Akeroyd proved to be a steady pair of hands during his 12-year stretch at Alexander McQueen, guiding the company through a roller coaster of highs and lows, and most importantly shepherding it through the suicide of Lee Alexander McQueen in 2010.

Not long after McQueen’s death, there was more drama at McQueen — albeit more positive. Kate Middleton tapped the house’s new creative director Sarah Burton to design what would become the most famous wedding dress in the world for her marriage to Prince William in 2011.

His background has served him well, according to Bernstein’s Luca Solca, who published a flash report following the Akeroyd announcement.

“Jonathan has earned significant experience at Kering and at Capri. He was successful in making Alexander McQueen one of the most vibrant brands within Kering, despite the loss of the eponymous designer in 2010. His experience seems relevant, as Burberry’s position in the market is somewhere in between the high-end European luxury brands and the more commercially focused American accessible luxury brands. We believe it is important that Burberry appoints a ‘merchant’ as CEO, an executive with strong commercial and marketing skills.”

Solca also noted that Julie Brown, Burberry’s chief operating and financial officer, “provides a solid complement to Jonathan, with solid experience in cost control and finance.”

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