Burberry has appointed Jonathan Akeroyd, head of Italian rival Versace, as its new chief executive, the British fashion house announced Wednesday.

The 54-year-old Briton and fashion veteran will take the reins on April 1 next year, returning home after a five-year stint at Versace, Burberry said in a statement.

He will replace Marco Gobbetti, who steps down at the end of the year to head up fashion brand Salvatore Ferragamo in his native Italy.

"I have long admired Burberry's position as the most iconic British luxury brand," said Akeroyd.

"I am looking forward to returning to London where I first built my career in the luxury industry to join a talented team with ambitious plans for the future and a strong platform to accelerate growth."

Prior to joining Versace, Akeroyd spearheaded a turnaround of luxury British brand Alexander McQueen during his time at the helm from 2004 to 2016.

He has also held senior fashion roles at upmarket London department store Harrods.

Burberry's sales returned to pre-pandemic levels earlier this year Burberry's sales returned to pre-pandemic levels earlier this year Photo: AFP / Niklas HALLEN

"Jonathan is an experienced leader with a strong track record in building global luxury fashion brands and driving profitable growth," said Burberry chair Gerry Murphy.

"He shares our values and our ambition to build on Burberry's unique British creative heritage and his deep luxury and fashion industry expertise will be key to advancing the next phase of Burberry's evolution."

Capri Holdings, which owns Versace as well as Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo, said it would immediately begin the search for Akeroyd's successor.

Burberry, famed for its handbags and trenchcoats, has experienced a turnaround in fortunes under Gobbetti's stewardship.

Sales returned to pre-pandemic levels earlier this year, boosted by the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions.

Following Wednesday's news, Burberry's share price gained 0.3 percent in late morning deals on London's rising benchmark FTSE 100 index.

"Marco Gobbetti's exit leaves big shoes to fill at Burberry, and given his experience Jonathan Akeroyd should be able to step into them with style," said analyst Susannah Streeter at stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown.

"He has a proven track record in building global brands and his successful tenure at Versace is testament to that reputation."