How To: Business Transformation with Angela Ahrendts


Angela Ahrendt’s was from a small town in Indiana and was brought into a historical quintessential British brand – Burberry in 2006. She was pivotal in doubling revenue and operating income over 5 years and transforming the business.

How did she lead such a landmark transformation?

Angela spoke to Harvard Business Review and explained the key focus points. All of which I’ve seen in isolated scenarios but not cohesively as a strategy as a whole. Which for me, is critical to realise change – it is working from the ground up with a birds-eye view, not just an isolated review of one element.

True To The Brand

Brand is not what you say it is what you do. The character, the personality and importantly the perception. Different products were made around the world, with the classic trench coat ‘made in the U.S.A.’ with different design directors. Globally Burberry hadn’t adapted.

The solution was to have one ‘brand czar’ that strictly ensured that anything that was in front of the customer anywhere went through the brand czar.

Focus on Core

Understanding what you’re good at, what you’re known for and becoming great at it.

The Art of the Trench being one manifestation of this.

Find Your White Space

Instincts get you to a point, but competitor landscaping enables you to find the white space. What Burberry did was tofocus on millennials – a group who had not been engaged with the brand. This was a bold move as most focus on those who have heard of or have engaged previously with a product not completely cold.

It worked they found their white space, and re-carved their niche in the luxury fashion industry.

My favourite reference to this transformation story is that on her first strategic planning meeting with top manager not one of the 60 attendees were wearing a Burberry trench-coat in the middle of the English winter. Now, senior managers are likely to have more than one trench-coat.

Cultural behaviour, vision and direction is defined by what people do which ultimately shows what they value.

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