Roberto Canevari: “It’s in Burberry’s DNA to act responsibly and with integrity”

Burberry has pushed the boundaries on innovation and design since Thomas Burberry invented gabardine in 1879. This waterproof, breathable material formed the basis for the iconic trench coat that was first worn by military officers serving at the beginning of the 20th century. Like the trench coat the brand has evolved yet still maintains its distinctive British identity. During the last decade Burberry took on massive momentum as it transformed into a modern luxury retailer of apparel, accessories and beauty products with some 10,000 employees and over 400 retail locations worldwide.

By Helen Armstrong

The company recently responded to a couple of years of sluggish growth by announcing ambitious goals for 2022. These aim to re-energise products, communication and customer experience across Burberry’s entire footprint and at the same time drive new approaches to some of the most pressing problems faced by the industry. Roberto Canevari’s job is to ensure continued focus on transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain. He also has to ensure that distribution, including true omnichannel services and personalised experiences, are consistent with brand positioning.

How did you arrive in your current position?

“I studied industrial engineering in Milan before joining Nestlé in general operations as part of young talent program. That led to me joining the Nestlé productivity team to work on factory improvements. This partly involved an internal audit of end-to-end factory operations, which gave me experience and the opportunity to meet the head of supply chain for the Italian business. He invited me onto his team and I fell in love with supply chain. I moved around different industries covering almost every area of end-to-end supply chain.

I then moved to Reckitt Benckiser to take on the Supply Operations. I was then asked to move into a commercial role, while also implementing two IT projects. Looking back, this was a facilitating factor because managing customers makes you understand the requirements of your colleagues. I learned the language and I now understand their problems which we in supply chain can help to solve. It gave me more knowledge and perhaps a bit more credibility.

After that I returned to Nestlé Waters, first in Milan and then in Paris, to run the global supply chain. I loved it and was not planning to leave but after around four years I got a call from Carrefour. I was attracted to the retail supply chain, the next part of the chain after manufacturing. Although I was torn to leave Nestle I realised that few people get the opportunity to do both, so I accepted the job.

It was a big surprise… … …

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This article was first published in Supply Chain Movement 28 | Q1 – 2018