MILAN: Marco Gobbetti is stepping down as chief executive of British luxury fashion house Burberry to take up the reins at Italian peer Salvatore Ferragamo, the companies announced on Wednesday.

Expressing disappointment at Gobbetti's departure set for the end of the year, Burberry Chairman Gerry Murphy said the board respected "his desire to return to Italy after nearly 20 years abroad."

Following the news, Burberry's share price slumped 9 percent in early deals on London's benchmark FTSE 100 index.

Salvatore Ferragamo gained 2.2 percent in Milan. Murphy added in a statement that the Burberry board would begin its search for a successor.

Gobbetti will leave after nearly five years in the role, allowing him to be closer to family, while the announcement comes one month after pandemic-hit Burberry announced a strong sales recovery.

"With Burberry reenergized and firmly set on a path to strong growth, I feel that now is the right time for me to step down," Gobbetti added in the statement.

In a separate release, Salvatore Ferragamo said Gobbetti would become general manager and chief executive officer of the Florentine group as soon as he is released from his contractual obligations at Burberry.

The sharp fall in Burberry's share price "shows how much he is credited with the success of" the group in recent years, noted Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell. chief market analyst Neil Wilson said that while there were "some pandemic-related issues still being washed out, Burberry remains a strong brand in the luxury space with room to appeal to a broader consumer base."

Gobbetti's tenure comes to an end having seen a turnaround in Burberry's fortunes after the heavy financial fallout of the coronavirus outbreak.