Burberry shares dive on strategy overhaul

Investors appeared wary of the cost of Burberry's overhaul plans, sending its shares down more than 10 percent

Burberry shares tumbled Thursday, as investors were spooked by the expected costs of a strategy overhaul and a below-expectations rise in profits at the British luxury fashion giant, analysts said.

Shares in the London-listed brand dived 10.5 percent to stand at £17.77 in afternoon deals.

Burberry said net profit surged 29 percent to £93 million ($121 million, 105 million euros) in the six months to September.

First-half revenue rose nine percent to £1.26 billion.

"Burberry posted a 24-percent jump in first-half pre-tax profits, but it still missed expectations," commented David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets UK.

"Traders were more interested in the company's plans –- which involves focusing more on the high end of the luxury goods market.

"The stores they are retaining will be revamped at a high cost -– and this is spooking traders," he added.

Analysts also said they were sceptical about the plans announced by Burberry's new chief executive, Marco Gobbetti, to take the group even more upmarket.

Gobbetti, who took over from emblematic former chief Christopher Bailey in July, unveiled a strategic overhaul to take the 161-year-old brand best known for its trademark handbags and trenchcoats even more into top-end of the luxury segment.

And the cost of revamping its stores would hit profits in the short term, he revealed.

"The firm has been performing fairly well (...) but it is the strategy update going forward from Gobbetti [that] has taken prominence over these and seen a notable swoon in the share price," said David Cheetham, analyst at XTB online traders.

City Index analyst Ken Odeluga said investors were concerned that the strategy would take time and would hit profitability.

"Burberry's strategy update makes sense as it will equip the group for the new world of luxury, but it is essentially a profit warning," Odeluga said.

Burberry also said it was assessing the potential risks surrounding Brexit, including higher customs duty should Britain's free trade agreements expire, and "uncertainty over the rights of EU nationals".