Burberry Fashion – A Designer British Brand
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Luxury British Fashion since 1856
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History of the Burberry Brand
The origins of global fashion giants, Burberry are surprisingly humble. It started over 150 years ago, in 1956, with a young draper’s assistant by the name of Thomas Burberry opening a small outfitters shop in Basingstoke, England. Innovations, such as the ‘Garbardine’ fabric and the invention of the trench coat saw the brand gain popularity throughout the 19th century. An association with the world’s leading adventurers, two Royal Warrants and extensive overseas expansion further increased the brand’s popularity and profile throughout the 20th century. However, Burberry was to face a setback at the dawn of the new millennium.
In the early 21st century, Burberry underwent a re-branding after becoming heavily associated with the football firms of the 1990’s and the ‘chavs’ that followed. The drastic shift in clientele came as a surprise to Burberry and prompted a change in operations to improve the brand’s image as a premium, high-end fashion label. The brand started selling in luxury department stores and Burberry flagships throughout the world. Additional image improvements came with advertisements in well-respected magazines including GQ, Esquire, Vogue, Tatler and Harpers Bazaar. The new-wave of advertisements featured well-known British faces such as Kate Moss, Agyness Deyn, Jourdan Dunn and Harry Potter actress Emma Watson, who was named the face of Burberry’s Autumn/Winter 2009 campaign and the cover model for the Spring/Summer 2010 campaign.
Kate Moss Modelling for Burberry
As of 2011, the Burberry label is firmly back on track with each of its 5 brands, Burberry London, Burberry Brit, Burberry Prorsum, Burberry Sport and Thomas Burberry posting profits. The brand is truly global with a successful e-commerce site and stores in countries in each of the world’s continents.
The famous Burberry tartan check
The Burberry Fashion Label: A Timeline Snapshot
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in the First Burberry Body Campaign.
The Art of the Trench
In 2001, to celebrate their iconic trench coat, Burberry launched the ‘Art of the Trench’ initiative, a made to order trench coat service. An accompanying website soon followed as a living document of the trench coat and the people who wear it. The project is a collaboration between Burberry and some of the world’s leading image makers including Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist. Additonally, Burberry patrons are invited to submit portraits of themselves and their friends wearing their Burberry trench coats. Burberry regularly selects their images from those submitted for feature on the ‘Art of the Trench’ website, creating a body of images reflecting personal style from across the globe.
Burberry and Social Media
Burberry are one of the many British fashion labels currently exploiting the power of social media, which they seem to be taking to the next level. Moments before the models for their Summer 2012 collection hit the runway at London Fashion Week in September of 2011, Burberry staged a ‘Tweekwalk’. in which the label premiered every look in the collection. The initation gained an astronomical amount of interest, with both Burberry and Chief Creative Officer, Christopher Bailey, trending globally. Conversation surrounding Burberry peaked at 4pm, hitting number two on global trending charts and breaking Burberry’s personal mentions-per-minute record.
A spokesperson for Burberry, said the initiative was such a success thanks to a series of ‘Twitter Takeovers’ on Burberry’s regional accounts, a spokesperson for the company tells us. Among the participants were Işın Görmüş, editor in chief of Elle Turkey, who tweeted on behalf of Burberry Turkey; Daria Shapovalova of Vogue Russia for Burberry Russia and Julia Juyeon Kang, editor in chief of Elle Korea who tweeted for Burberry Korea.
In addition to their ‘Tweetwalk’, Burberry streamed the London Fashion Week experience on its website, to its 8.4 million Facebook fans and 20,000 YouTube subscribers, as well as at more than 45 of its retail locations. The live stream featured red carpet interviews and shots from multiple panning angles.
Creative Director: Christopher Bailey
Prior to his appointment at Burberry as Creative Director in 2001, Christopher Bailey did stints as the Senior Designer of Womenswear at Gucci (1996-2001) and Womenswear Designer at Donna Karen (1994-1996). He was instrumental in the re-branding of Burberry, that took it from a brand associated with ‘chavs’ back to a premium, highly-desired fashion label. As recognition of Bailey’s outstanding contribution to the brand, in 2009 he was appointed in the newly created position of Chief Creative Officer of Burberry. Bailey became responsible for the design of all Burberry collections and products, as well as being in control of all advertising, corporate art direction, multimedia content and overall brand image.
In his new role, Bailey has recently overseen the design and development of the 160,000 square foot Burberry Global Headquarters at Horsferry House in London in 2009. As well as the 68,000 square foot Burberry Americas Headquarters at 444 Madison in New York and the new Burberry Headquarters in Ginza, Tokyo in Japan.
“Horseferry House is so much more than a building. It’s very symbolic of the company…We have so much momentum and energy bubbling over right now and I wanted to unify the creativity and the dynamic attitude of all the employees that are driving this company forward.” – Christopher Bailey.
Christopher Bailey has also been a prolific award winner, boosting not just his own profile, but also the profile of Burberry as a brand. Some of Bailey’s recent accolades include:
Additionally, Bailey received an MBE in the Birthday Honours List for his services to the Fashion Industry, in 2009
Emma Watson for Burberry
Burberry Financial Information
Burberry’s focus on non-apparel has paid off as their profits for the 12 months to the end of March 2011 were £296m, up 40% on a year ago, with revenues up 27% to £1.5bn. The non-apparel sector accounted for nearly half of all of its sales growth. Additionally, Burberry raised its full year dividend by 43% to 20p a share.
2010 saw Burberry returning to profit after opening further international stores, closing loss making stores and investing more in online marketing. Burberry stores in London were particularly successful thanks to favourable currency movement and increased tourism. Burberry reported pre-tax profits of £166m for the 12 months to March 2010. The previous year the brand had made a loss of £16.1m, hit by charges at its Spanish operations. Sales for the 2010 financial year rose 7% to £1.28bn, with the company recording double-digit sales growth in Europe and Asia Pacific.
The first quarter of the 2011 financial year to 30th June saw fortunes continue to improve for the Burberry brand, with total sales revenues creasing by a third, beating all analysts’ forcasts as global demand for luxury products showed no sign of declining. The British brand saw a 34% jump in total revenue to £367 million in the first quarter. Underlying retail revenues increased by nearly 50% on the same period last year, to £245 million. The acquisition of 50 francise stores in China has been a smart move on Burberry’s part with the Chinese market contributing 20% of the 50% leap in underlying sales. Additionally, in the first quarter, Burberry’s Asia-Pacific unit registered the biggiest increase with revenues up 67% to £121 million – Europe saw a 21% increase, the Americas a 26% increase and the rest of the world a 27% increase.
However, Burberry’s operational margins are set to drop in the first half of the 2011 financial year as the brand invests up to £200 million in its stores. This includes the refurbishment of the London, Knightsbridge store and a large new Burberry store on London’s Regent Street in the spring of 2012.
In 2008, Christopher Bailey and Burberry Chief Executive Angela Ahrendts set up the Burberry Foundation. The Burberry Foundation is a registered charity with the aim to help young people to realise their dreams by a commitment to dedicating global resources. The Burberry Foundation invests in select charities focused on supporting young people in the key cities in regions where the majority of Burberry employees live and work, so they are able to participate in volunteer roles with Burberry charity partners on the ground.
The Future of the Burberry Brand
In recent years, the Burberry brand has grown from strength to strength sparking speculation of a potential takeover(2011) by a global fashion house such as LVMH. With a market cap of approximately £5bn (as of May 2011), Burberry is no small pocket change.
Kate Moss Modelling for Burberry
With the strong financial position Burberry was in at the end of their 2010/2011 financial year the brand will continue to invest in growth over the coming years. The brand is planning a 12-13% increase in average retail selling space in the coming year, with a bias towards China, Latin America and the Middle East. Throughout 2011, Burberry plan to open a further 25 stores, with 5 having already opened during the first financial quarter of the year (March 30-June 30), including those in Hong Kong, Chennai and Sydney. Additionally, the joint venture to open 5 stores in Saudi Arabia is now operational. However, the trading environment in Southern Europe remains consistenly tough – with so much money (£200 milion) being spent on store revamps and openings in 2011, will we see Burberry scaling down their operation in Southern Europe if business does not pick up. Watch this space.
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