Christopher Bailey
Christopher Bailey walks the runway after the Burberry catwalk show during London Fashion Week in February 2017. Reuters

Christopher Bailey, the creative force behind Burberry, will leave the company by the end of next year, bringing a 17-year spell with the luxury retailer to an end.

According to the London-listed company, Bailey, the firm's chief creative officer who also acted as chief executive until earlier this year, has decided to pursue other interests and to focus on new projects.

"It has been the great privilege of my working life to be at Burberry, working alongside and learning from such an extraordinary group of people over the last 17 years," Bailey said in a statement released on Tuesday (31 October).

"Burberry encapsulates so much of what is great about Britain. As an organisation, it is creative, innovative and outward looking. It celebrates diversity and challenges received wisdom."

In July, Bailey was replaced as CEO by Marco Gobbetti, the former boss of French fashion house Céline. Under the Gobbetti's stewardship, shares in the luxury retailer have rallied to 1,925p, after falling as low as 1,066p in June 2016. That was when Bailey warned of a "challenging environment" due to the uncertainty sparked by the Brexit vote.

Bailey, who faced a shareholder revolt over his pay earlier this year, admitted his decision to leave had not been taken lightly.

"It has been a truly inspiring place to work and the decision to leave was not an easy one," he explained.

"I do truly believe, however, that Burberry's best days are still ahead of her and that the company will go from strength to strength with the strategy we have developed and the exceptional talent we have in place led by Marco."

The 46-year-old, who has widely credited as the man who turned Burberry from a small UK company into a global fashion icon, will receive his salary, pension and contractual cash allowance and non-cash benefits until the end of 2018.

However, he will not receive any cash bonus paid for the period after March and he is also giving up a series of share awards given as part of the company's incentive plans, which are understood to be worth approximately £16m at current prices.

Chairman Sir John Peace added: "I have total confidence that Marco's vision and leadership, with the excellent management team in place, will keep Burberry on the forefront creatively, digitally and financially, creating further value for shareholders in the next exciting stage of our evolution."