LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - Mulberry named Thierry Andretta as its new chief executive on Thursday, bringing two former Céline executives together to spearhead the British handbag maker’s return to its affordable luxury roots.
Andretta will join the company on April 7 and work alongside Johnny Coca, another alumnus of fashion brand Céline who is due to become creative director on July 8 as previously announced.
The 57-year-old will replace former chief executive Bruno Guillon, who quit almost a year ago after a turbulent two years marked by three profit warnings during a failed attempt to move upmarket.
“I am delighted to become chief executive after nearly a year as a non-executive director,” Andretta said. “Mulberry is a truly authentic British brand with a unique manufacturing base in the UK. The brand has great international potential.”
Andretta had previously held a number of senior roles at groups including Lanvin, Moschino, the Gucci Group, LVMH Fashion and Céline. He was until recently the chief executive of Buccellati, the Italian luxury jewellery brand.
At Mulberry he is expected to continue the strategy introduced by the group’s chairman Godfrey Davis who has led a return to its lower priced roots.
Under Guillon, the maker of Bayswater and Alexa handbags had hiked prices in an effort to become more exclusive and win back customers who were upgrading to pricier brands. But, like others in the market, it was taken by surprise by the arrival of aspirational brands at the lower end of the luxury range, such as Michael Kors.
While Mulberry slumped to a loss in the first half to Sept. 30 last year, it said in December a return to its lower-priced roots had lifted sales more recently.
Davis, currently chairman and interim CEO of Mulberry, will revert to the role of chairman on April 7. (Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Vincent Baby)