GBL Raises Burberry Stake to 4%, Signaling Faith in New Management

Well, that was fast.

Less than five months after making its first investment in Burberry, GBL, the investment fund controlled by Belgian billionaire Albert Frère and the Desmarais family trust, has upped its stake in the British company.

According to a Regulatory News Service statement, Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, or GBL, has increased its stake in Burberry to 4 percent, from 3 percent.

The company made its initial Burberry investment in March. GBL has also taken a stake in Adidas and backs the midmarket private-equity firm Ergon Capital Partners, a former owner of Italy’s Golden Goose Deluxe Brand.

GBL’s decision to increase its stake comes less than two weeks after Burberry’s first-quarter trading update and its AGM, where the company’s new chief executive officer, Marco Gobbetti, made his first public remarks after assuming the role.

Gobbetti has taken over from Christopher Bailey, who remains chief creative officer and has been given the new title of president.

Last month, Burberry also shook up the board of directors, drafting in the veteran retailer Ron Frasch, who will serve as a non-executive director and a member of the remuneration and nomination committees, effective Sept. 1.

At the same time, the company announced that Philip Bowman will step down this year and be replaced by Jeremy Darroch, who was named senior independent director, effective July 1. Darroch will lead the process of appointing a successor to chairman Sir John Peace.

Burberry has also gotten off to a solid start in the new fiscal year: Retail revenue in the three months through June 30 grew 13 percent to 478 million pounds ($624 million). Growth was 3 percent, outstripping some analysts’ forecasts, while like-for-like sales were up 4 percent.

On Monday, Burberry shares closed up 0.6 percent to 16.52 pounds.

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