Liberty of London managing director Ed Burstell is a New York transplant known for his flamboyant, gregarious nature and for adeptly leading Liberty’s double-digit year-on-year growth since he arrived in 2008. Formerly, Burstell was a senior vice president at American luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman, and before that he was general manager of upscale fashion accessories boutique Henri Bendel. He started his career as a fragrance sprayer at Macy’s, a vast and well-established mid-range stalwart of the American retail industry.
Known mainly for its heritage – including a history that dates back to 1875 and its mock-Tudor storefront on London’s Great Marlborough Street – Liberty is a high-end department store and fabric purveyor that celebrates eclectic British designers. Founded by Arthur Liberty as an importer of goods from the Far East, today Liberty is a storied and iconic part of British retail. Having initially joined in 2008 as buying director, Burstell was promoted to managing director in 2010 following private equity firm Blue Gem Capital’s £32 million acquisition of the company.
“I brought more of a commercial slant to the business. It always had so much great merchandise. It just needed to have the dust blown off,” he told Retail Week in 2012. In particular, he brought a renewed focus on young British designers like Mary Katrantzou and Peter Pilotto, and believes that London Fashion Week is the last bastion of creativity over commerce on the international fashion week circuit. He also highlighted Liberty’s renowned floral prints, spearheading a number of collaborations with brands like Levi’s, Barbour, and Nike.