This has been a watershed year for the luxury sector, marked by a challenging global environment and the expectation that these challenges will continue. In this context, Burberry has been accelerating its productivity and efficiency agenda, especially looking at its ways of working, and has identified significant growth opportunities across its existing channels, products and regions as described earlier in this report.
As a Board we have spent a significant amount of time during the year considering all aspects of this productivity and efficiency agenda with management, and this will continue to be an important area of focus for the Board in the coming year. The Board remains confident of the Group’s compelling opportunities in the longer term and that these initiatives will create future value for our shareholders.
Board and Committee composition has continued to be a particular focus of the Board during the year as the Board continues to execute against its succession plan. The composition of the Board has evolved significantly over the past three years with the appointment of four new non-executive directors and further changes are planned over the coming year.
David Tyler stepped down from the Board on 31 December 2015, and on behalf of the Board I would like to thank David for his immense contribution to Burberry since its IPO in 2002.
The Board also keeps under review the composition of its Committees and the tenure of Committee Chairs. Following a review during the year, the Board has appointed Jeremy Darroch as Chair of the Audit Committee and Fabiola Arredondo as Chair of the Remuneration Committee, each with effect from 1 August 2016. I would like to thank Philip Bowman and Ian Carter for their commitment as previous Chairs of these important Committees over a number of years.
The Board has also determined that the composition of the Committees should evolve over time away from the past practice of all non-executive directors sitting on all Committees. A variation in Committee membership will enable a fresh perspective and reflects the increased time commitment and focus required from Committee members due the expansion of the Group over the past few years and the increasing complexity of the remit of the Committees.
Burberry continues to support diversity in all its forms across the organisation including the Board. While all Board appointments are made on merit, the Board continues to believe in the importance of a diverse Board and has always had strong gender diversity amongst its membership, including at executive level. The Board will continue to monitor diversity and take such steps as it considers appropriate to maintain its position as a meritocratic and diverse business.
It is also important to have an open and ongoing dialogue with our shareholders and other stakeholders. During the year a combination of myself, individual non-executive and executive directors and other members of senior management participated in around 280 meetings with investors, including with the Group’s 25 largest investors.
With the expectation that the year ahead will continue to be impacted by a challenging external environment, the Board will continue to work with management as we execute on our strategic and operational initiatives. The work of the Board and its Committees during the year along with the assessment of its performance, is set out in this report.
Sir John Peace