Burberry board change as chief of finance quits

Kasmira Jefford
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BURBERRY finance chief Stacey Cartwright is to step down from the luxury group in a management shake-up that will also see the creation of a chief operating officer role.

Cartwright, a widely respected industry figure who has been at the fashion house for nine years, is to leave in July “to pursue other interests”, Burberry said yesterday.

She will be succeeded by Carol Fairweather, Burberry’s senior vice president of group finance who has reported to Cartwright for six years.

Burberry has also appointed John Smith, a non-executive director at the company and a former senior BBC executive, to the new role of chief operating officer “to support the next phase of growth”.

The FTSE boss said he will focus on driving the group’s presence in digital media and mobile technology as well as looking at cutting costs.

Burberry’s share price fell 5.45 per cent yesterday on the news of Cartwright’s surprise departure.

Sam Hart, an analyst at Charles Stanley said there was likely to be some profit taking behind yesterday’s fall in share price. He also citing a Chinese advertising ban this week on certain expensive gift items as having an impact on luxury goods groups.

“Inevitably the departure of any finance director is always a slight reason for concern – but I don’t think that is the case in this situation,” he said.

Bethany Hocking at Investec said: “We and the market will be sad to see Stacey Cartwright go. She is a very good chief financial officer and I think the succession plan has been really well thought out.”

Burberry shocked investors last September when it warned of a slowdown in spending, especially in the key luxury goods markets of Asia.

However subsequent statements have been more positive, with Christmas sales beating expectations.


John Smith
John Smith is to become chief operating officer, a new post Burberry said it created to support its expansion, especially after last year’s decision to bring its perfumes business in-house and create a new beauty division. Smith, a non-executive director at Burberry since 2009, was chief executive of BBC Worldwide from 2005 to 2012, where under his watch the broadcaster grew its profits four-fold. Prior to BBC Worldwide, he was director of finance then BBC chief operating officer. Analysts said his operational background in a complex enterprise like the BBC made him a good fit to take Burberry forward.

Carol Fairweather
Carol Fairweather, 51, has been Stacey’s second-in-command at Burberry’s finance department for six years after leaving Rupert Murdoch’s News International, where she was finance director for eight years. She also previously held a senior financial role at consultancy group Shandwick. Burberry yesterday praised her “strong track record of success at Burberry” and said “her understanding of the Burberry business and brand, coupled with her strong leadership and financial skills position her uniquely to drive continued success in this role, while ensuring a seamless transition.”