Burberry Plans to Buy Italian Leather Goods Firm in Bid to Control Supply Chain

As competition in the marketplace heats up and supply chains take a front seat for the first time, brands are making moves to have better command of their sourcing and product development.

For Burberry, the focus is on its leather supply chain.

The luxury brand said Monday that it has agreed to acquire a luxury leather goods business from long-term Italian supplier partner CF&P. The more intimate relationship with its leather product development is expected to not only allow Burberry to upscale the quality of its products, but likely improve margins, too.

“This acquisition is a major milestone for us and a statement of our ambition in this strategically important category,” Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti said in a statement. “It will create a center of excellence for Burberry’s leather goods, covering all activities from prototyping, product innovation, engineering and the coordination of production. This will give us greater control over quality, cost, delivery and sustainability of our leather goods.”

As part of the transaction, CF&P employees, including expert craftspeople who have worked with the Burberry brand for more than a decade, will become Burberry staff once the acquisition is completed, which is expected this year.

Further terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Burberry has been on a mission to “re-energize” its product as part of its transformation, moving from what’s long been a focus on its traditional check to other high-end options for its range of leather goods. The efforts are expected to pay off on the bottom line.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, comparable store sales at Burberry were up 2 percent, with Asia Pacific and China seeing the greatest growth. In the U.S. market, sales were “broadly flat.” In its guidance for fiscal year 2018, Burberry said it continues to expect margin improvement and to remain “strongly” cash-generative.

“We are building on strong foundations and are fully focused on the successful delivery of our multiyear plan to position Burberry firmly in luxury and deliver long-term sustainable value,” Gobbetti said in the January statement. Preliminary results for the quarter ended March 31 are expected out Wednesday.

To further its transformation efforts, Burberry in March tapped Riccardo Tisci — who spent 12 years as head of creative for Givenchy — as its chief creative officer. Tisci will present his first collection for the brand in September.

Burberry’s move to bring its leather supplier in-house comes on the heels of other luxury leaders making similar moves to shore up their supply chains and product offerings.

Last month, Gucci officially inaugurated its ArtLab, a craftsmanship and innovation center just outside of Florence and close to its headquarters. The new space will serve as a hub for the design and creation of Gucci leather goods and footwear.

Editor’s Note: This story was reported by FN’s sister magazine Sourcing Journal. For more, visit Sourcingjournal.com.

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