Johnny Coca leaves Mulberry
Johnny Coca has left his position as creative director of Mulberry, the British fashion and accessories house, as announced on Tuesday.
The Spanish-born and multi-lingual designer will leave Mulberry at the end of March, some five years after taking up his position at the house. He initially joined Mulberry after a highly successful stint at Celine – under then-creative director Phoebe Philo – after working with Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton.
Coca’s tenure coincided with a period of international expansion at the British house. His nomination saw Mulberry launch such iconic bags as the Amberley and the Iris; as well as develop tremendously both the brand's eyewear and sneaker categories. Also, he achieved in re-launching Mulberry's men’s accessories and jewelry ranges.
“I have loved my time with this iconic, British heritage brand and would like to thank the amazing teams and everyone who has supported me during my time here. I am proud of everything we have achieved and the collections we have created. The passion and dedication I have seen at Mulberry has been incredible and I am honored to have been part of the brand’s history,” said Coca in a release.
During Coca’s tenure, Mulberry staged a series of consumer events in the UK, Japan, South Korea, North America, Europe and Australia as part of the brand’s international expansion.
“Coca’s last collection for the brand will be Spring Summer 2021 and Mulberry has begun the process of finding a successor,” Mulberry noted in the release.
Coca’s last event for Mulberry was a three-day program of events at its New Bond Street store, during London Fashion Week in February. One segment, entitled Made to Last, invited customers to immerse themselves in the world of the luxury handbag manufacturer with experiential initiatives. The house even “transported” its Somerset factory to London, allowing guests to see how its new 100% sustainable leather Portobello Tote was created by its craftspeople. Coca, who was known for favoring kilts in his general attire, led on to a series of talks on creativity and sustainability with guests.
The affable and popular Coca garnered generally positive reviews for his Mulberry fashion collections. They tended to blend historicism – from British Tudor to English country house gentility – with 'It-gal' sass and a punk attitude.
“I would like to thank Johnny for everything he has contributed to the brand over the past five years. Johnny’s creative vision has been a key element in delivering our strategy to develop Mulberry as an international lifestyle brand,” Mulberry CEO Thierry Andretta added.
“As we head towards our 50th anniversary in 2021, we continue to focus on our strategy to build Mulberry as a global luxury brand. We remain committed to developing responsible, innovative products, underpinned by a strong in-house creative team and our international direct-to-consumer omni-channel business model,” the CEO said.
That said, even though it is one of the UK’s most famous marques, noted for its British aesthetic and value for money products, Mulberry has had difficulty in the past gaining traction in its drive as to reinvent itself as a true international prestige marque. As a result, Mulberry has struggled to become truly profitable, and its share price has nosedived from a high of 1,132.50p in September 2016 to 147p today, as seen this morning on the London Stock Exchange.
In February, British retail investor Mike Ashley bought a 12.5% stake in Mulberry via his department store chain House of Fraser, which included the brand amongst its retail offerings for many years.
In its most recent results, Mulberry suffered a 2% decline in global sales, ending up at £166 million as of the end of March 2019; and endured a £5 million loss.
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