Marco Gobbetti has quit as chief executive of the luxury fashion brand Burberry after nearly five years in the role.
The British fashion brand said Gobbetti – who was charged with turning around the business when he took the reins in 2017 – was leaving to take a job in Italy that would allow him to be closer to his family. The luxury Italian group Salvatore Ferragamo, famous for making shoes worn by Hollywood stars such as Audrey Hepburn, announced on Monday it had appointed Gobbetti as its new chief executive.
Shares fell nearly 8% in early trading, making Burberry the biggest faller on the FTSE 100.
The Burberry chairman, Gerry Murphy, credited the outgoing chief executive with leading the transformation of the brand and business.
Murphy said: “The board and I are naturally disappointed by Marco’s decision but we understand and fully respect his desire to return to Italy after nearly 20 years abroad. With the execution of our strategy on track and our outlook unchanged, we are determined to build on Burberry’s strong foundations to accelerate growth and deliver further value for our shareholders.”
Gobbetti, a luxury goods veteran who led brands including Céline, Givenchy and Moschino before joining Burberry, is expected to stay in the role until the end of 2021, giving the company time to find a successor.
The move means the chief executive will lose all of his unvested share awards, which will lapse in full when he leaves Burberry at the end of the year.
The 62-year-old, who earned £4m in shares as part of a golden handshake when joining the business, was paid £180,000 through Burberry’s employee share plan last year. It took his total pay to £2.3m, even after giving up 20% of his salary for three months at the height of the Covid crisis in 2020.
“With Burberry re-energised and firmly set on a path to strong growth, I feel that now is the right time for me to step down,” Gobbetti said in a statement.
“I have every confidence that the creativity and strong values that define Burberry will continue to drive the company’s future success.”