Burberry's new CEO to join firm next week

LONDON (Reuters) - Marco Gobbetti, recruited last year from French brand Celine to be the new chief executive of Burberry BRBY.L, will start work next week and take on full responsibilities in July, the British luxury goods company said on Monday.

A customer walks in front of a Burberry store in central London July 15, 2008. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico/File Photo

Italian Gobbetti was named as Christopher Bailey’s successor as Burberry CEO last July but contractual obligations have prevented him from taking charge so far.

Gobbetti arrives at a difficult time for Burberry which rebuffed a takeover approach from U.S. rival Coach COH.N last year according to reports.

Burberry, scheduled to update on Christmas trading on Wednesday, said Gobbetti would start at the firm on Jan. 27 as executive chairman, Asia Pacific and Middle East.

He will not become CEO and join the board until July 5 when Bailey will take on the new role of president and chief creative officer.

The Asia Pacific and Middle East position was created for him by Burberry to enable him to get to know the business before becoming CEO, the firm said.

His arrival will allow Bailey to focus again on the design role that made his name.

Burberry has suffered from depressed demand at U.S. department stores and is exposed to any slowdown in China, with the Chinese consumer accounting for 40 percent of its global retail sales.

It has however been boosted by tourists taking advantage of the weaker pound to spend more in its London stores and the translation benefit when converting overseas revenues to sterling.

Foreign exchange benefits have helped to drive a 46 percent rise in its shares over the last year.

The stock was up 1.3 percent at 1,632 pence at 1145 GMT (6:45 a.m. ET), valuing the business at around 7.1 billion pounds ($8.6 billion).

Last week analysts at Barclays upgraded their stance on Burberry to “overweight”.

They are forecasting a 25 percent rise in third quarter sales to 752 million pounds, with like-for-like sales up 2 percent.

Barclays highlighted the social media success of a tie-up with pop star Kris Wu as auguring well for progress in China.

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Keith Weir