Early years, 19th century
Burberry was founded in 1856 when 21-year-old Thomas Burberry, a former draper's apprentice, opened his own store in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. By 1870, the business had established itself by focusing on the development of outdoors attire. In 1880, Burberry introduced in his brand the gabardine, a hardwearing, water-resistant yet breathable fabric, in which the yarn is waterproofed before weaving. "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.
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. In 1911 they became the outfitters for Roald Amundsen, 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.
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". 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.
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.
Burberry was an independent company until 1955, when it was taken over by Great Universal Stores (GUS).
During the 1970s, the brand became popular with the British casual cult, leading to its being associated with members of football firms by the 1990s and 'chav's the following decade.
In 1998, Burberrys changed their marketing name to Burberry.
A Burberry store in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
In May 2001, Christopher Bailey joined Burberry as creative director. GUS divested its remaining interest in Burberry in December 2005. 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 Ђ435 million.
In 2006, Rose Marie Bravo, who as Chief Executive had led Burberry to mass market success through licensing, decided to retire. She was replaced by another American Angela Ahrendts, 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. Part of the new design-led drive and vision was taken from admiring and learning lessons from iconic leading design brands, including Apple Inc.Burberry first began selling online in the US, followed by the UK in October 2006, and the rest of the EU in 2007. 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, the first time a woman topped the table.
Burberry store locations around the world
In recent years, Burberry has attempted to rebrand itself with advertisements in GQ, Esquire, Vogue, Tatler, and Harper's Bazaar, and is well known for using British celebrities in its advertising, including models Kate Moss, Agyness Deyn, Jourdan Dunn, and Lily Donaldson, singer George Craig, actress Emma Watson, who was named the face of Burberry's 2009 autumn/winter campaign and the cover model for the 2010 spring/summer campaign, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who was unveiled as the face of Burberry's newest fragrance, Burberry Body, in July 2011.In June 2010, the Group launched its first cosmetics line, Burberry Beauty.
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. During her tenure, sales increased to over £2 billion, and shares gained more than threefold to £7 billion. 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.
Early years, 19th century