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Burberry’s Bonanza: Luxe Brand Eyes Growth

Led by strong women’s wear and fragrance sales and aggressive retail expansion, Burberry reported a 75.3 percent surge in profits.

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LONDON — The turnaround is over at Burberry and now the brand’s in growth mode.

Rose Marie Bravo, its chief executive officer who over the last six years has overseen the transformation of the British label from a dusty company known for trenchcoats to one of luxury’s major brands, said Monday that Burberry is entering its next phase.

“In many ways, this is a new era for Burberry,” said Bravo, who joined Burberry in September 1997. “We’ve completed the turnaround, and now we’re hopefully in growth mode. There is a new energy, and new blood in the company, and I think that will provide good stimulation for the team.”

As noted, Brian Blake, a Gucci veteran, will join Burberry on June 1, in the post of worldwide president and chief operating officer. Stacey Cartwright joined in March as chief financial officer. Blake and Cartwright will be members of the Burberry executive committee along with Bravo.

Bravo made her comments as Burberry reported profits surged 75.3 percent for the fiscal year ended March 31 on the back of strong women’s wear sales, aggressive retail expansion, and the launch of the Burberry Brit fragrance last fall.

For the year-end period, Burberry posted net income that jumped to 91.5 million pounds, or $155.1 million, from 52.2 million pounds, or $80.7 million, in the prior year. Sales climbed 13.8 percent to 675.8 million pounds, or $1.15 billion, from 593.6 million pounds, or $917.8 million. Dollar figures have been converted at the average exchange rate.

And, with the launch of Burberry Brit for men today, it’s clear the luxury goods firm isn’t taking a breather.

The new face of the fragrance is British heartthrob Hugh Dancy, who stars in the film “King Arthur,” which will be released this summer. Dancy will also feature in Burberry’s fall 2004 ready-to-wear campaign.

Brand-wise, the fragrance is already off to a golden start: Burberry Brit for women, which launched in September, has already sold more than 100 million euros, or $122 million, at retail.

The current fiscal year is shaping up to be one of consolidation. In the statement, the company said operating margins would be “broadly consistent” with the 2003-’04 fiscal year, and licensing revenue growth will be “more moderate” compared with last year.
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