Burberry CFO and COO Julie Brown steps down

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Burberry’s chief operating and chief financial officer Julie Brown is stepping down from her role in April 2023, kick-starting the search for a successor.

Brown joined Burberry in 2017 from British medical equipment manufacturing company Smith & Nephew, where she was CFO. She played a key role in steering the luxury fashion brand through the pandemic. In May, Burberry reported a 23 percent rise in annual sales to £2.83 billion for the 2022 financial year. She is leaving to “take up an opportunity outside of the luxury industry”, according to a statement from the company.

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

Still, analysts were surprised by Brown’s exit. “While not an industry insider, Julie definitely has the merit of having promoted an unswerving focus on cost efficiency,” says Luca Solca, senior analyst at consultancy Bernstein, in a note. “This departure adds to the ‘to do’ list of Jonathan Akeroyd, as media reports indicate he is trying to recruit a new creative director as well. We think new and more original creative energy could benefit Burberry. The CFO departure at this point seems an outright setback, though.”

Flavio Cereda, MD and analyst at financial services company Jeffries, writes: “No reasons have been disclosed for her decision to exit the group she joined six years ago, but it implies a further clean slate for new CEO Jonathan Akeroyd ahead of his strategic presentation. (relaunch) in November.”

“Julie has played a key role in positioning Burberry for growth, supported by a high-quality team,” a statement from Akeroyd reads.

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