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Burberry Group
Public company
Traded as LSEBRBY
Industry Fashion
Founded 1856; 160 years ago (1856)
(Basingstoke, England)
Founder Thomas Burberry
Headquarters London, England
Number of locations
Area served
Key people
Revenue £2.3 billion (2014)[1]
£445.4 million (2014)[1]
£332.3 million (2014)[1]
Number of employees
10,600 (2014)[1]
Website www.burberry.com

Burberry Group plc is a British luxury fashion house, distributing outerwear, fashion accessories, fragrances, sunglasses, and cosmetics.[2] Its distinctive tartan pattern has become one of its most widely copied trademarks. Burberry is most famous for its trench coat, which was designed by founder Thomas Burberry.[3] The company has branded stores and franchises around the world and also sells through concessions in third-party stores. Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales have granted the company Royal Warrants, which have been maintained despite Burberry's closure of its factory in Wales. Christopher Bailey has been the CEO and Chief Creative Officer since 2014. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

In 2014, Burberry ranked 73rd in Interbrand's Best Global Brands report, ahead of Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss.[4] Burberry has more than 500 stores in over 50 countries.[5]


Early years, 19th century[edit]

Burberry was founded in 1856 when 21-year-old Thomas Burberry, a former draper's apprentice, opened his own store in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England.[6] By 1870, the business had established itself by focusing on the development of outdoors attire.[6] In 1880, Burberry introduced in his brand the gabardine, a hardwearing, water-resistant yet breathable fabric, in which the yarn is waterproofed before weaving.[6] "Burberry" was the original name, but then the company soon switched to using the name "Burberrys", after many customers from around the world began calling it "Burberrys of London". This name is still visible on many older Burberry products. In 1891 Burberry opened a shop in the Haymarket, London.[6]

20th century[edit]

Former Burberry headquarters on the Haymarket (built 1913)

In 1901, the Burberry Equestrian Knight Logo was developed containing the Latin word "Prorsum", meaning forwards, and registered as a trademark.[6] In 1911 they became the outfitters for Roald Amundsen,[6] the first man to reach the South Pole, and Ernest Shackleton, who led a 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica. A Burberry gabardine jacket was worn by George Mallory on his presumed ill-fated attempt on Mount Everest in 1924.[7]

In 1914, Burberry was commissioned by the War Office to adapt its officer's coat to suit the conditions of contemporary warfare, resulting in the "trench coat".[6] After the war, the trench coat became popular with civilians. The iconic Burberry check was created in the 1920s and used as a lining in its trench coats.[6]

Burberry also specially designed aviation garments. A.E. Clouston and Betty Kirby-Green made the fastest flying time to Cape Town from London in 1937 and were sponsored by Burberry.[8]

Burberry was an independent family controlled company until 1955, when it was taken over by Great Universal Stores (GUS).[9]

The company was no longer under family control but started its period of innovation and significant growth of sales and profits. With the development of the "swinging sixties" Burberrys became the luxury clothing brand from the UK the most sought after. Base products like the trench coat, the Piccadilly raincoat, the Cashmere scarf were all relaunched using notably the beige check known worldwide today.

Stars of the modern world began wearing Burberrys (Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, Peter Sellers, Ronald Reagan, etc). During the 70s and 80s Burberrys signed agreements with some of the finest worldwide manufacturers of the industrialised nations to produce complementary products to the existing British collection such as suits, trousers, shirts, sportswear, accessories, for men, ladies and children. These products, designed under the strict control of headquarters in London, were produced and distributed through the finest independent retail stores worldwide as well as the Burberry stores, and contributed to the growth of the brand through to the 90s. With Lord Litchfield as photographer, Lord (Leonard) Wolfson chairman, and Stanley Peacock OBE, Burberrys not only developed an international image for British luxury but high profitability levels.

In 1998, Burberrys changed their marketing name to Burberry.[10]

21st century[edit]

A Burberry store in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

In May 2001, Christopher Bailey joined Burberry as creative director.[11][12]

However, between 2001 and 2005, Burberry became associated with "chav" and football hooligan culture. This change in the brand reputation was blamed on lower priced products, the proliferation of counterfeit goods adopting Burberry's trademark check pattern, as well as adoption by celebrities prominently identified with "chav" culture. The association with football hooliganism led to the wearing of Burberry check garments being banned at some venues.[13][14] GUS divested its remaining interest in Burberry in December 2005.[15][16] Burberry Group plc was initially floated on the London Stock Exchange in July 2002. In 2005, Sanyo-shokai was the Burberry ready-to-wear licence holder in Japan with retail value of €435 million.[17]

In 2006, Rose Marie Bravo, who as Chief Executive had led Burberry to mass market success through licensing, decided to retire.[18] She was replaced by another American Angela Ahrendts,[19] who joined from Liz Claiborne in January 2006, and took up the position of CEO on 1 July 2006. Ahrendts and Bailey successfully turned around the then Chav-like reputation that the brand had acquired at the end of Bravo's tenure, by removing the brand's iconic check-pattern from all but 10% of the company's products and buying out the Spanish franchise that was worth 20% of group revenues.[11][20][21] Part of the new design-led drive and vision was taken from admiring and learning lessons from iconic leading design brands, including Apple Inc.[20] Burberry first began selling online in the US, followed by the UK in October 2006, and the rest of the EU in 2007.[22] Bailey became Chief Creative Officer in November 2009, whilst it was reported that during 2012 Ahrendts was the highest paid CEO in the UK, making £16.9m,[23] the first time a woman topped the table.[24]

In October 2013, it was announced that Ahrendts would take up the position of Senior Vice President of retail and online at Apple, Inc. from April 2014, and be replaced as CEO by Bailey.[25] During her tenure, sales increased to over £2 billion, and shares gained more than threefold to £7 billion.[26] Although Burberry promotes its British connection, according to The Guardian, a British national daily newspaper, as of July 2012, Burberry maintains only two production facilities in Great Britain, one in Castleford producing raincoats, and a smaller one in Keighley.[27]

In spring 2014, Christopher Bailey became CEO of Burberry and retained the role as chief creative officer.[25] His basic salary is £1.1m, with total remuneration of up to £10m a year depending on sales targets being met.[28] In July 2014, Burberry shareholders opposed the salary by failing to support the company's remuneration report in a non-binding vote.[28]

The Burberry Foundation[edit]

The Burberry Foundation was established in 2008 and is a philanthropic organisation dedicated to help young people realise their dreams through the power of their creativity.[29]


Burberry operates under 3 sub-brands: (2014)[1]

  • Burberry Prorsum – The most fashion forward collection, inspired by runway shows, providing the design inspiration for the brand
  • Burberry London – The tailored collection, typically what a customer wears on weekdays for work
  • Burberry Brit – The most casual collection, typically worn on weekends


Burberry offers a range in checks:[30]

  • Horseferry: Classic check with a beige Burberry Equestrian Knight
  • Haymarket: Classic check with a red Burberry Equestrian Knight
  • House: Classic check without the Burberry Equestrian Knight
  • Nova: The newer and bigger check pattern. Has a cream/tan background with vertical and horizontal black and pink/red stripes
  • Supernova: Larger than Nova check.
  • Exploded: Exploded check usually in metallic colours like silver
  • Smoked: Classic check in a darker colour with no Equestrian Knight detail
  • The Beat: Classic check in black and white.



  1. ^ a b c d e "Annual Report 2014" (PDF). Burberry. Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Fragrance and Beauty to be Directly Operated Retrieved 6 January 2014
  3. ^ Chastain, Sue (4 December 1985). "Trenchant coat cuffs may fray and buttons may pop but a true believer won't abandon his Burberry". Chicago Tribune. p. 40. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  4. ^ "2014 Best Global Brands". Interbrand. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Burberry Store Fashion. "Store locator". burberry.com. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Burberry History". Burberryplc.com. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  7. ^ "Mallory and Irvine: Should we solve Everest's mystery?". BBC. 3 October 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  8. ^ "DH Comet G-ACSS & The Burberry Racer Project". Key Publishing Ltd. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "Timeline: Burberry". 2 November 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  10. ^ "'Burberry - Voguepedia'". Vogue. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  11. ^ a b McDowell, Colin (6 September 2009). "Christopher Bailey: Burberry's golden boy". The Times. Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  12. ^ Jones, Dolly (11 November 2009). "All Hail Bailey". Vogue. Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  13. ^ Bothwell, Claire (28 October 2005). "Burberry versus The Chavs". BBC. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  14. ^ Ostler, Catherine (5 November 2014). "As Romeo Beckham stars in their new ad, how Burberry went from chic to chav to chic again". Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  15. ^ Finch, Julia (18 November 2005). "GUS shareholders to receive Burberry cheque". London: Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  16. ^ Fletcher, Richard (18 January 2011). "How Burberry was kept in check at GUS" (html). The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  17. ^ Chevalier, Michel (2012). Luxury Brand Management. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-17176-9. 
  18. ^ "Bravo move to quit puts Burberry shares out of fashion". The Telegraph. 7 October 2005. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  19. ^ "World Business Forum 2011 : Home". hsmglobal.com. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  20. ^ a b Hass, Nancy (9 September 2010). "Earning Her Stripes". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  21. ^ The Burberry Story Styl.sh. Retrieved 31 January 2014
  22. ^ "Shop on line". Uk.burberry.com. 5 December 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  23. ^ Petroff, Alanna (11 June 2013). "Top paid CEO in U.K. is an American woman". CNN Money. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  24. ^ Barrow, Becky (10 June 2013). "The 17 million FTST Queen - Burberry boss tops chief executive earning list". London: www.dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-11. 
  25. ^ a b Marfil, Lorelei (8 April 2014). "Angela Ahrendts Named Honorary DBE". WWD. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  26. ^ Andrew Roberts (15 October 2013). "Burberry Designer Bailey to Become CEO as Ahrendts Goes to Apple". Bloomberg. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  27. ^ Carole Cadwalladr. "The hypocrisy of Burberry's 'Made in Britain' appeal". the Guardian. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  28. ^ a b "Burberry shareholders vote against remuneration report". BBC News. 11 July 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  29. ^ "Burberry Foundation". burberryplc.com. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  30. ^ Burberry Store Fashion. "Burberry Check Bags - Burberry". Burberry. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 

External links[edit]