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Can Burberry position itself as a super luxury brand?

The beige check may be a defining look in the collections of heritage brand Burberry, but under new ceo Marco Gobbetti, that look is going to be ultra luxe.

Morphing into an uber luxury brand is a priority at Burberry, who’s Creative Director Christopher Bailey announced he is stepping down from his role less than a fortnight ago.

Gobbetti announced the company aims to firmly establish itself as a luxury brand in order to “play in the most rewarding, enduring segment of the market.”

This means Burberry will have to take a hard look at its current distribution policy, closing wholesale accounts in multibrand stores that do not pass the criteria of luxury retail. Even its own stores will be under pressure to either be renovated or be considered for closure.

The company said it will “rationalise” non-luxury wholesale and retail doors, starting with the US and then EMEIA, noted WGSN. It will “transform” the in-store experience by revamping stores and “enhancing our luxury service.” That means wholesale businesses that don’t meet its luxury standards can no longer stock its products.

Shopping at Burberry is a far cry from shopping at Hermes

But the association of super luxury and Burberry is questionable. Enter any of its stores and you will not experience the same level of luxury as one finds at Céline or Hermès, neither in its decor nor its in its product offer. Nor perhaps the same level of luxury in the stores situated along Bond Street, London’s most sought after location for luxury brands.

As for the product, a never-ending range of entry price points and recognizable logo products - the check in particular - does not match with other luxury icons. It is precisely the limited availability of product that drives desirability. The ‘see now, buy now’ template adopted by Burberry to show in season is also at odds with luxury, as the rest of the sector has large shunned on-demand fashion, leaving this to the high street copycats.

Burberry needs to invigorate its fashion content

According to the Financial Times, Burberry said it needed to “invigorate its fashion content and convey new energy in its communications, as well as sprucing up its stores, in order to plant itself in the most rewarding, enduring segment of the market.”

According to Reuters, Gobbetti states Burberry will not ditch the coats and check prints that are part of its DNA, but says it will strive to meet buyers’ craving for the eye-catching and new.

“Today’s customers are looking for casual, fun fashion,” Gobbetti said. “Their wardrobes are already full of iconic staples.”

Time of transition

Burberry said it needed “to win with this consumer, we must sharpen our brand positioning and change our approach to product, communication and customer experience.” The company also said it will “reshape our offer, increasing and invigorating the fashion content with compelling luxury leather goods and accessories to attract new customers. We will build on the strength of our apparel and re-energise it. We will build our offer to provide a complete look for our customers, while continuing to simplify our ranges.”

Photo credit: Burberry website