Burberry has announced that its president and chief creative officer Christopher Bailey will leave the company at the end of 2018.
Bailey will remain in his dual role until the end of March, when he will step down from the Burberry board.
He will then continue to provide his full support to chief executive officer Marco Gobbetti and the team on the transition until December 31, 2018.
The news comes just three months after Bailey gave up his chief executive officer duties for Gobbetti and transitioned into his current dual role.
Bailey, who first joined Burberry in 2001, held the dual title of chief executive and chief creative officer of the fashion brand and retailer for just over three years. He was promoted to that position in May 2014.
During his 17 years at the British company, he has been credited as a driving force behind its transformation into one of the world’s biggest luxury brands.
However, he has also attracted headlines for clashing with shareholders on executive pay deals – including his own.
In 2013, Burberry Chairman Sir John Peace was forced to defend the decision to combine Bailey‘s role as chief creative designer with chief executive after Angela Ahrendts quit.
At the retailer’s annual general meeting in July this year, shareholders staged another revolt after 32 per cent voted against generous pay deals for Bailey and for the company’s finance boss Julie Brown.
Burberry said Bailey worked with the board to put in place a new leadership structure which came into effect in July when Gobbetti succeeded him.
Burberry added that Gobbetti understands and supports Bailey’s decision to step down next year and will now begin the process of finding a successor.
“Burberry has undergone an incredible transformation since 2001 and Christopher has been instrumental to the company’s success in that period,” Gobbetti said.
“While I am sad not to have the opportunity to partner with him for longer, the legacy he leaves and the exceptional talent we have at Burberry give me enormous confidence in our future.
“We have a clear vision for the next chapter to accelerate the growth and success of the Burberry brand and I am excited about the opportunity ahead for our teams, our partners and our shareholders.”
Bailey added: “It has been the great privilege of my working life to be at Burberry, working alongside and learning from such an extraordinary group of people over the last 17 years.
“Burberry encapsulates so much of what is great about Britain. As an organisation, it is creative, innovative and outward looking. It celebrates diversity and challenges received wisdoms. It is over 160 years old, but it has a young spirit. It is part of the establishment, but it is always changing, and always learning.
“It has been a truly inspiring place to work and the decision to leave was not an easy one. I do truly believe, however, that Burberry’s best days are still ahead of her and that the company will go from strength to strength with the strategy we have developed and the exceptional talent we have in place led by Marco.”
Sir John Peace also recently announced he was planning to step down as chairman as part of Burberry’s leadership restructure.