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The speed of growth may be intimidating, and Ahrendts is well aware of the challenge she faces in keeping that growth rolling.
As a result, honing the company's image has been a priority for Ahrendts, who works closely with Cartwright and creative director Christopher Bailey, whom she refers to as the Burberry "brand czar." To wit, Burberry is set to introduce a string of store innovations.
The company plans to overhaul some of its larger stores — in Knightsbridge, London; Manhattan's SoHo, and Los Angeles. The newly refurbished stores will be a departure from the cozy, pale oak interiors of the current stores. The new units will feature dark wood, smoked chrome and floors made of stone the color of a Burberry trench. Ahrendts and Bailey are experimenting with the idea of "cold weather" and "warm weather" stores, the latter of which will feature more white and glass.
Burberry also plans to test different store formats. The new, smaller stores will carry chiefly nonapparel and outerwear and Ahrendts said that, if the new formats work, they could serve both as entry points into new markets and "second or third stores" in a market where Burberry is already established. The first new format store opened in Tampa, Fla., earlier this month, and others will follow in Los Angeles and Copley Square, Boston. A further six stores are opening this year with the new format in the U.S.: Austin, Tex.; Beverly Center in Los Angeles; Palo Alto, Calif.; Natick, Mass.; Boston, and Venetian Palazzo in Las Vegas. The brand also is doubling the square footage of its Short Hills, N.J., store in the fall.
Back in London, the company also is laying down plans for its new headquarters, on Horseferry Road in Westminster, located near MI5 — Britain's equivalent of the FBI. The space will unite all the Burberry divisions under one roof — they are currently scattered around five buildings in central London near Piccadilly Circus.
"And Christopher's office is right up there," said Ahrendts, pulling out an architect's rendering, and pointing to the penthouse overlooking the Thames.
"We love him so we like to take care of him," she said with a laugh.