Burberry’s star designer Christopher Bailey took the reins of the £6.5bn designer yesterday as the group finally confirmed that its chief executive, Angela Ahrendts, had left for the US computer giant Apple.
Burberry had kept investors and analysts guessing about the exact departure date of Ms Ahrendts, fuelling speculation that there was an issue with her severance package. In particular, there were recent suggestions that she could miss out by just a few weeks on long-term share awards worth about £7.8m if she left before June.
The company had previously said only that Ms Ahrendts would leave in “mid-2014”. Yesterday, however, it confirmed that the 53-year-old American, who took over in 2006, had resigned her directorship on 30 April.
It means that Mr Bailey, who will fill the joint role of chief creative and chief executive officer, and has been with the business since 2001, will now oversee Burberry’s full-year results update on 21 May.
It is thought that an arrangement was made where Ms Ahrendts did not have to stay until June to qualify for the shares awarded under a three-year plan which was stipulated in previous annual report.
In a statement, Burberry said its remuneration committee has “determined that Angela Ahrendts’s outstanding 2011 Co-Investment Plan … will vest, to the extent that the performance condition is satisfied.”
The value of these payments is about £5m. But options due to have vested up to 2016 – of 1.15 million shares worth about £16m at current prices – will not be given.
The confusion surrounding Ms Ahrendts departure increased last month as she completed her six-month notice.
The woman who helped to turn Burberry into a global luxury brand during her time at the helm is joining Apple to run its retail business. Last week, Apple also added to the confusion when its chief executive, Tim Cook, announced that he was looking forward to Ms Ahrendts “joining Apple’s executive team next week”.
Mr Bailey became chief creative officer in 2009 and his appointment to the top job worried analysts about how he will manage the dual role. He appeased some concerns in November by promoting Luc Goidadin to chief design officer.