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The Impact of COVID 19 on the Leadership & Management Practices Within Burberry


1.1 Aim of Assignment and Period Covered:

This assignment aims to examine how the events of Covid-19 have affected Burberry’s Leadership and Management. This assignment focuses on developments that took place between 2018 and 2022. Burberry’s existing and future business practices can be gleaned from how its executive management dealt with the epidemic.

1.2 Introduction to Burberry:

The Burberry label was founded by Thomas Burberry in 1856, and it has since become an international powerhouse in the high-end fashion sector (BAZAAR, 2023). Over the years, it has become an industry powerhouse thanks to the popularity of its distinctively British aesthetic and high-quality products. Burberry’s global reach is coordinated from its London headquarters (Piovan, 2022).

The Burberry brand creates various high-end fashion items, including clothing, accessories, fragrances, and cosmetics. This brand’s trench coats have become icons of sophistication (Gilroy, 2023). Because of its dedication to both traditional craftsmanship and forward-thinking design, Burberry is known for creating classic pieces with a contemporary twist.

Burberry targets the well-off and culturally savvy who place a premium on uniqueness, craftsmanship, and rarity in their purchases. The company’s well-considered organisational structure allows it to manage activities in several countries efficiently. Burberry’s vast and varied workforce spans many departments, from marketing and design to retail and supply chain management (Bloomfield et al., 2022).

Burberry’s ultimate goal is for its luxury brand to be acknowledged worldwide as epitomising the best of British tradition, knowledge, and creativity. According to Al-Jaberi, (2022), Burberry’s mission is to provide exceptional service and premium products to its clientele. To realise its goal of being the most respected luxury brand in the world, Burberry must be nimble enough to adapt quickly to changes in customer taste.

Originality, integrity, open-mindedness, and honesty have long been hallmarks of the Burberry brand. These principles guide the company’s management and decision-making. Burberry actively promotes an environment where employees can think critically and creatively, challenging the fashion industry’s status quo (Kim and Sullivan, 2019). The organisation also places a premium on ethics, promoting them throughout its supply chain and committing to open communication.

Burberry, as a whole, is a luxury fashion label representing the best British culture and industry worldwide. According to Sayed (2019), Burberry has influenced the fashion industry and inspired people worldwide thanks to its unwavering commitment to its vision, mission, and principles.

Some of Burberry’s most influential leaders and managers at that time were:

  1. Marco Gobbetti (CEO until July 2021)
  2. Riccardo Tisci (Chief Creative Officer)
  3. Julie Brown (Chief Operating and Financial Officer)
  4. Pam Batty (Vice President of Corporate Responsibility)
  5. Mark McClennon (Chief Information Officer)

These executives and managers have had a significant impact on the way Burberry does business.

1.3 Overview of Methodology:

This assignment relies on a qualitative examination of secondary sources for its methodology. As part of this process, one must undertake extensive desk research and a thorough literature analysis of relevant academic and industry reports. The assignment uses these materials to analyse how Covid-19 altered Burberry’s management style, shedding light on the company’s strategies and alterations made over the time frame.

2. CRITICALLY Discuss how Covid-19 impacted the Leadership & Management Practices within Burberry:

2.1 Critically Discuss the L&M Practices within Burberry:

Before the spread of Covid-19, Burberry was widely regarded as a global leader in the luxury goods industry thanks to its effective leadership and management. The company’s management style synthesised transformational leadership, strategic planning, and environmentally responsible operations (Jokinen, 2023).

Marco Gobbetti, CEO of Burberry from July 2017 until his departure in July 2021, oversaw the company’s push towards innovation and digital transformation (the Guardian, 2021). According to Gobbetti, keeping Burberry’s rich tradition in step with modern fashion trends was crucial to the company’s success. The ideas of transformational leadership, which encourage and inspire followers to perform at a high level, were mirrored in this method.

The management methods used by Burberry were consistent with the principles of strategic management. The corporation had a clear strategic ambition to make Burberry a global premium brand that was nevertheless uniquely British (Olteanu, 2020). Therefore, attention had to be paid to primary strategic goals like developing new markets, increasing brand recognition, and enhancing supply chain efficiency. Burberry aimed to keep its fashion industry’s edge through strategic management practices.

Burberry’s management practices were deeply rooted in sustainability and social responsibility. The company recognised the value of making environmentally responsible decisions, such as using recycled materials in manufacturing (Frei et al., 2020). Burberry pledged to become carbon neutral by 2022 and launched the Burberry Foundation as part of its efforts to promote sustainability. These initiatives reflected Burberry’s commitment to corporate social responsibility and were in line with the shift towards eco-friendly business methods that are occurring at present (Pérez-Bou and Cantista, 2023).

However, the Covid-19 pandemic produced significant difficulties for Burberry and quickly prompted management and leadership changes (McMaster et al., 2020). There was a need for quick thinking and innovative solutions because the epidemic forced stores to close, disrupted supply lines, and reduced customer demand. Burberry redirected manufacturing in light of the severe lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) among healthcare workers. The company’s ability to pivot and provide aid during the disaster was displayed when its former production facilities began producing non-surgical gowns and masks (Harris et al., nd). By deploying its resources to support frontline workers and aid in the global fight against Covid-19, Burberry demonstrated its flexible leadership and commitment to social responsibility.

The pandemic also provided a boost to Burberry’s digital transformation initiatives. Because of the limits placed on brick-and-mortar businesses due to the lockdown, the company focuses on growing its online presence and increasing customer engagement through digital means (Tzavella, 2021). Burberry has begun using technologically-enhanced “virtual fashion shows” to introduce its collections to consumers worldwide. During reduced opportunities for face-to-face connection, social media played a critical role in sustaining brand awareness and encouraging customer participation. These actions demonstrated Burberry’s innovative marketing methods and willingness to use digital mediums to maintain contact with its clientele.

The significance of managing crises and risk mitigation was demonstrated by the effects of the pandemic on Burberry’s L&M procedures (De Camargo, 2022). In order to weather the storm, the corporation had to make some tough choices, such as streamlining processes and decreasing headcount. Minimising the damage to the company and protecting the brand’s future required strong crisis leadership and management.

Strong leadership and management practices linked with transformational leadership, strategic management, and sustainable business concepts were in place at Burberry before the Covid-19 epidemic (Hepner, 2022). Rapid adjustments were necessary due to the pandemic’s breakout, including adaptive reactions to personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages and an increased emphasis on digital transformation. Crisis management and risk reduction are more crucial than ever to ensure the organisation’s resilience and long-term success.

Burberry’s management and leadership styles shifted in response to the technical and social realities of the epidemic (Sumarliah et al., 2021). As a result of the pandemic’s effect on the economy, people changed how they shopped and what they bought. To adapt to the needs of its customers, Burberry has to reevaluate its product lineup, price policies, and distribution methods. Burberry reduced expenses and improved its supply chain to lessen the blow of the crisis (Triponel and Sherman, 2020). The company prioritised inventory control, stock reduction, and process optimisation. These measures were consistent with strategic management theories that stress adaptability, flexibility, and efficiency in adversity.

Also, the pandemic drove home the need for digitalisation and omnichannel capabilities in the apparel business. Burberry has redoubled its efforts to boost its online presence and digital consumer experience while its brick-and-mortar stores have been temporarily closed or reduced in scope (Rigby, 2020). In order to connect with customers from afar, the business invested in e-commerce platforms, website optimisation, and digital marketing tactics. Burberry aimed to create a more customised and unified digital and offline shopping experience using technology and data analytics (Pangarkar et al., 2022).

Covid-19’s effect on Burberry’s L&M procedures highlighted the need for nimbleness and quick thinking to deal with the unexpected. Burberry reevaluated its sourcing practices and built closer relationships with suppliers due to the crisis, which revealed vulnerabilities in global supply chains (Prapha et al., 2020). This underscores the importance of leadership and management practices that promote supply chain resilience and risk management.

Several socio-economic and technological factors will likely influence future leadership and management at Burberry (Kano et al., 2022). With rising consumer expectations for eco-friendly and socially responsible businesses, sustainability will remain front and centre. According to Bhandari et al. (2022), Burberry must increase its commitment to sustainability in its research and development, material sourcing, and production methods to meet customer expectations. Technology and digitalisation will remain critical to Burberry’s L&M processes (de Araujo et al., 2021). Burberry can revolutionise the customer experience and stay ahead by embracing cutting-edge technology like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality (Ahmed et al., 2022). Understanding customer preferences, projecting demand, and making decisions based on complex data will all benefit greatly from data analytics.

Consumers’ demographics and inclinations are also changing, which is having an impact on the fashion sector. According to Agrawal et al. (2021), Burberry’s leadership and management will be influenced by the millennial and Gen Z customer base, with their digital savvy and emphasis on diversity and sustainability. The company’s initiatives should reflect the priorities of today’s youth by encouraging openness to new ideas and accepting of differences.

Burberry’s leadership and management must consider geopolitical shifts and trade policies (McFerson, 2022). Because of the global nature of the fashion industry, changes in geopolitical dynamics can have far-reaching effects on a business’s operations, supply chain, and access to markets. Burberry’s bottom line and capacity to compete could be negatively impacted if trade policies, tariffs, and import/export rules were to change (Falvo et al., 2021).

For instance, Brexit, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, has added new layers of complexity and uncertainty to international trade (Huggins et al., 2020). Burberry, a British company with global operations, has to figure out how to deal with Brexit’s effects on the company’s supply chain, customs procedures, and access to EU countries. In order to keep things running smoothly, deal with setbacks as little as possible, and look into untapped markets, strong leadership and management were essential.

Currency exchange rate variations may also affect Burberry’s bottom line and pricing policies (Jedidi and Heil, 2019). Because of its international reputation, the firm deals in various currencies. The price of production, raw materials, and overseas sales are susceptible to currency rate fluctuations. Burberry’s upper management and directors must monitor currency risks and take action to offset any negative financial effects (Parkinson and Parkinson, 2022).

From a technology standpoint, artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and blockchain integration can affect Burberry’s leadership and management practices (Plangger et al., 2022). These technologies make opportunities for process improvement, supply chain visibility, and consumer interaction possible. Automation may streamline processes and increase efficiency, while AI-powered analytics can provide valuable insights for decision-making. According to Josephs and Josephs (2020), Burberry’s commitment to sustainability and responsible sourcing can be bolstered by blockchain technology, which enhances traceability and authenticity.

Burberry faces threats and opportunities in an era of growing concern over protecting personal information online (Kshetri, 2022.). According to Raineri et al. (2022), Burberry, like many other businesses, collects and stores consumer data and, as such, must comply with legislation and take strong cybersecurity precautions to protect customers’ personal information. Data privacy and security should be prioritised by leadership and management practises, with protocols and training programmes established to protect the confidentiality of customers.

2.2 Critically Discuss Emerging Socio-Economic and Technological Trends:

The latest technology and economic developments heavily influence Burberry’s leadership and management techniques (de Araujo et al., 2021). Changes in consumer tastes, market dynamics, and technological developments all contributed to these tendencies. According to MOMIN, A. (2022), for Burberry to succeed in the long run, the company must recognise and respond to these shifts.

A significant emerging socio-economic trend is the increasing focus on sustainability and ethical practices. There is a growing concern among consumers, especially younger generations, regarding the environmental and social consequences associated with the products they choose to buy (Diddi et al., 2019). The current trend poses both challenges and opportunities for Burberry. The company must prioritise sustainable sourcing, manufacturing, and supply chain practices to meet the expectations of socially conscious consumers. Burberry should incorporate sustainability as a fundamental principle within its leadership and management practises, promoting transparency, accountability, and responsible business conduct (O’Sullivan, 2020).

The growth of experiential retail and the bespoke tailoring of consumer shopping are two more macroeconomic tendencies. Customers in today’s world of online shopping are looking for unique ways to connect with their favourite companies (Marr, 2019). Leadership and management practice at Burberry should take advantage of cutting-edge technologies to provide customers with highly customised and immersive interactions (Rahman et al., 2023). Technology like augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and other interactive digital platforms may be used to forge closer ties with buyers.

Burberry must lead the way as technological innovations reshape the fashion sector. The convergence of AI with data analytics is a notable development (Brienza, 2022). AI-driven algorithms’ analysis can inform decisions and new product creation of consumer tastes, spending habits, and market developments. According to Gattuso (2021), Burberry’s upper echelons could use AI to understand shoppers better, streamline operations, and customise products for each customer’s needs.

In addition, the proliferation of mobile and social media has altered how customers interact with businesses. Burberry can connect with its customer base by using marketing tactics which must include digital mediums: such as social media, as it makes direct interaction with customers, partnerships with influential people, and immediate responses possible (Tang, 2020). Effective leadership and management practices will leverage these platforms to build brand loyalty, generate buzz, and foster a sense of community among Burberry’s customers.


3.1 Highlight the critical Leadership and Management Theories identified by the Practices in section 2:

Critical leadership and management theories supporting Burberry’s practises emerged as the discussion progressed. Former CEO Marco Gobbetti was a prime example of the first prominent leadership theory, transformational leadership. This method focused on encouraging workers to think creatively and take advantage of technological advances as they occurred. The company’s position as a worldwide premium brand has been sustained by Burberry’s ability to evolve in response to shifting market conditions.

The strategic management theory was the second one that explained Burberry’s success. The organisation prioritised essential goals, such as entering new markets, raising brand awareness, and improving operational efficiency. Burberry sought to maintain a competitive advantage in the fashion business by ensuring its strategic management practices aligned with its vision. Burberry’s dedication to ethical business practises, and the growing trend towards sustainability in the high-end fashion industry is reflected in the company’s management practises, which prioritise sustainability and social responsibility.

3.2 Present the key emerging socio-economic and technical trends likely to impact the organisation’s Leadership and Management Practices in the future, as per section 2:

Current and future trends will influence Burberry’s future leadership and management style. Burberry must include sustainable and ethical practices in its business model, supply chain, and new product development to keep up with the competition. With the rise of “experiential retail” and the demand for more individualised customer service, businesses must use technology to provide more immersive and specific interactions with their clientele.

Burberry will continue to adapt to how technologies like AI, data analytics, and social media are used. In order to better understand consumer behaviour, streamline processes, and communicate with its clientele, the corporation must be at the forefront of these changes. Burberry can reach its target audience more persuasively by explaining its responsible business practices through sustainable technologies like blockchain for supply chain transparency. Burberry can maintain its status as a progressive, customer-focused brand by adopting these new practices, which will also help to keep its leadership and management strategies cutting-edge.


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