Burberry’s chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey, is leaving the FTSE 100 fashion firm after 17 years.
It gave no explanation for the departure but said he will leave next year.
Mr Bailey, 46, was chief executive of Burberry from 2014 until July, when he moved to his current role.
Although his decision to leave “was not an easy one”, he said he was “excited to pursue new creative projects”.
After joining from Gucci in 2001, Mr Bailey worked with former chief executives Rose Marie Bravo and Angela Ahrendts to make Burberry’s camel, red and black check designs into must-haves items for fashionistas around the world.
However, his tenure as chief executive following Ms Ahrents’ decision to join Apple, was less successful and was unpopular with shareholders.
On the day when Burberry announced Ms Bailey was stepping aside, shares jumped 8%.
His pay, as well as those of other Burberry directors, was a controversial issue with investors.
In leaving, he is giving up his right to shares worth £16m, some of which he was granted when he became chief executive in 2014 – an award which more than half of shareholders voted against – which have not yet been fully taken.
This summer, shareholders were again unhappy with the rewards proposed by the company. A third of shareholders voted against proposed remuneration that included a £5.4m award for Mr Bailey. He was granted £3.5m instead.
This financial year he stands to make £7.6m, including share awards which will vest this year.
The company is in the middle of a cost-saving drive and wants to save at least £100m by 2019.
Mr Bailey’s exit will allow chief executive Marco Gobbetti, who joined from upmarket label Celine last year, to revamp Burberry’s creative direction as well as its operations, analysts said.
“Burberry … has become somewhat predictable and deja vu,” Exane BNP Paribas said.
For the three months to June, Burberry’s retail sales rose 4% to £478m, with double-digit growth in China.
The jump came after Burberry reported a fall in annual profits for 2016-17.
Shares fell 1% to £19.02, but have risen almost 30% in the past 12 months.