Burberry attracts new chief from luxury goods group Gucci

Burberry scored a fashion hit yesterday when it announced it had poached one of Gucci's executive vice-presidents to head its worldwide operations.

Brian Blake is the latest in a string of directors to leave the Italian luxury goods group, which was recently acquired by its controlling shareholder, Pinault-Printemps-Redoute.

Mr Blake, 48, will hold the joint post of chief operating officer and worldwide president. He replaces Mike Metcalfe, the joint chief operating officer and financial officer, who recently took the helm at Fitness First, the gym chain, and Thomas O'Neill, the former worldwide president, who leaves Burberry in July to head Harry Winston, the jeweller.

Although Mr Blake, who takes up his new role next month, will not join as an executive director, a spokeswoman said: "It is hoped he will join the board at some stage." He will report to Rose Marie Bravo, the chief executive who masterminded Burberry's re-invention as a catwalk label, and sit alongside her on an executive committee with Stacey Cartwright, the finance director.

In his 17 years at Gucci, Mr Blake held several positions, including heading its watches division and its US arm. He has also worked for Lord & Taylor, the US retailer.

Ms Bravo said Mr Blake was joining Burberry at an "important juncture in the company's development". She added: "His extensive international experience, in-depth understanding of the luxury market and successful track record for driving performance, sales and profit brings added dimension to the proven strength of our team and our strategy."

The company declined to comment on details of Mr Blake's compensation package, but Mr O'Neill was paid a total of £1.2m last year, while Mr Metcalfe earned £960m.

Mr Blake said it would be "exciting... to continue the momentum" at Burberry. He will be charged with overseeing Burberry's global wholesale, retail, licensing and manufacturing operations.

His departure from Gucci follows those of Domenico De Sole, the chief executive, Tom Ford, the creative director, and Robert Singer, the finance director. The Italian group, which also owns the Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen labels, surprised the industry last month when it turned to Unilever to select Mr De Sole's replacement. Robert Polet, who heads Unilever's ice cream arm, is joining Gucci in July.

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