Burberry defies luxury slowdown in China as Angela Ahrendts prepares to leave


Laura Chesters@LauraHChesters
Wednesday 16 April 2014 14:06

Burberry boss Angela Ahrendts, presiding over her last trading update, told shareholders the handover to Christopher Bailey is“well under way” as the luxury brand defied fears of a slowdown in China.

Bailey will replace Ahrendts as chief executive next month, while retaining his role of chief creative officer when his predecessor leaves to run Apple’s shops.

Burberry today reported strong sales growth with total revenue up 19% to £1.3 billion in the second half and retail up 13% to £928 million. Full year sales reached £2.3 billion.

The strong figures were driven by better-than-expected growth in China and Korea with Asian sales up 19% as well as a 27% jump in the US.

The better performance in China is in contrast to Italian rival Prada, which earlier this month warned demand had weakened.

Burberry continued its expansion in Asia and opened a flagship store in Shanghai this month. Finance director Carol Fairweather said the new store has taken “Regent Street to Shanghai” where its Chinese customers are 20 years younger than elsewhere and digital savvy. She said “digital is a differentiator” compared to other luxury brands in the region.

Burberry said its beauty business saw wholesale up 11% in the second half and sales grew to £144 million over the year, boosted by the launch of Brit Rhythm perfume, advertised by model Suki Waterhouse.

Burberry warned currency movements would mean “material adverse impact on reported profit” in 2015.

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