Burberry bolsters board as Cartwright takes finance job

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Burberry installed an all-female team at the top of the fashion group yesterday with the appointment of Stacey Cartwright as chief financial officer.

The group, which has a £1.9bn stock market value, announced the appointment alongside half-year results to the end of September which showed a 16 per cent increase in like-for-like sales to £321m. Operating profits were £66.9m, a 21 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Rose Marie Bravo, the chief executive of Burberry, also dismissed speculation that she might quit to join its arch rival Gucci. The Italian fashion house was rocked last month by the departure of its top creative and financial team, Tom Ford and Domenico de Sole. However, she was less certain about whether Christopher Bailey, Burberry's top designer, could resist a move to Milan.

"Chris loves working with a British brand," said Mrs Bravo. "He is one of a team. If he left, life would go on but he is very committed. I'm definitely staying. I've brought in a new chief financial officer and I want to keep building the team and the business."

Ms Cartwright, the former chief financial officer of the internet bank Egg, will join Mrs Bravo as one of the few female duos running a large British company. Another example is Pearson, the media group run by Dame Marjorie Scardino, the chief executive, and Rona Fairhead, the finance director.

Ms Cartwright, who has three children, will replace Mike Metcalf, who is leaving to pursue other interests. She will earn a base salary of £350,000 a year but can double that in bonuses if performance targets are met. She will also be eligible to receive a share options package equal to twice her basic salary. The company said Ms Cartwright's options would not become exercisable for at least another three years.

Mr Metcalf said he would be staying on for six months to ensure a smooth handover. After that, he said, he would be looking for opportunities to take up a chief executive's role, probably at a private equity-backed business involved in the consumer goods industries. He said the time was right to step down after six years at the company, a period which included overseeing the flotation of the business 18 months ago.

Mr Metcalf is also the company's chief operating officer. The company said a replacement would be sought.

Burberry revealed that trading was strong across its business during the first half. Mrs Bravo said consumer trends had swung away from dark colours and an obsession with logos to bright colours with far less emphasis on labels. Burberry's own iconic check pattern has a much more subtle presence in its spring 2004 collection, which is being rolled out to retailers. Another highlight was the better-than-expected results for the launch of its Brit fragrance. The company expects Brit to generate retail sales in its first full year of $100m (£62.5m).

Burberry's own chain of international stores saw the strongest sales within the group, with revenues up 20 per cent on a like-for-like basis to £107m. Licensing revenues, mainly from Japanese partners, were up 15 per cent to £30.7m, while sales through other retailers, such as Harvey Nichols, were up 13 per cent to £183.4m.

Sales of accessories, such as handbags and shoes, grew 16 per cent and accounted for 27 per cent of revenues. This is slightly below the company's target of a 30 per cent share. But that partly reflected strong growth in other product lines such as menswear and womenswear.