Return to home ground makes perfect sense for the UK’s traditional outfitter

Elizabeth Fournier
COMING after weeks of share price volatility following the Japan earthquake, Ahrendts’ enthusiasm for London could look like a miscalculated retrenchment, especially when Burberry’s Asian sales grew 50 per cent in the first six months of 2010.

So has market uncertainty really spooked Ahrendts that much?
The answer is a definite no. Far from turning its back on Asia, Burberry is taking a calculated step to make the best of both worlds.

Much of the brand’s appeal in Asia relies on its English heritage status – started in Hampshire in 1856, its British milestones include inventing the trench coat during WWI.

The European market may now contribute just a third of overall sales, but it is where the origins of the brand’s success lie.

And investors needn’t fear that decisions are being made on aesthetics alone – Ahrendts is still fiercely pursuing the tourist pound.

Thirty per cent of Burberry’s profits in London are down to Chinese tourists, spending six times more on holiday than they do at home.

Ahrendts said just last week that she wanted to “sell the British attitude across the world”. When it’s so clear that’s what her core Asian customers want, her latest move is anything but inward-looking.