“Apple’s retail chief Angela Ahrendts has spent the past two years revamping the technology company’s retail stores, where it sells iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Watches,” Leena Rao reports for Fortune. “That’s no small business—there are nearly 500 Apple stores worldwide, and retail sales are responsible for some 18% of the company’s $233.7 billion in sales, amounting to $42 billion in yearly revenue.”

“But Ahrendts views the company’s newly redesigned retail outlets not just as stores, but as the company’s next big products, she explained at the Fortune Most Powerful Women conference in Laguna Niguel on Monday night, in her first interview about Apple’s retail redesign,” Rao reports. “In fact, she and Apple view their stores as potential town squares within each of the cities they reside.”

“‘The store is now the biggest product we produce and we have five new features [for iPhones and iPads]. Accessories are avenues, and the huge digital screen in each store is the forum,’ Ahrendts said,” Rao reports. “By the end of this year, 95 stores will be fully redesigned with this vision…”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote of Ahrendts back in September 2015:

Cook’s best hire to date. Plus, if he, God forbid, ever got hit by a bus, she could slide right into the CEO position. Of that, we have no doubt. Ahrendts’ track record is stellar. Having two world-class CEOs in the executive suite should give Apple shareholders a strong sense of security. Just as Jobs had Cook, Cook has Ahrendts.

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Apple’s Angelea Ahrendts makes her mark on Apple Stores by going ‘ultraluxe’ – December 8, 2015
Disappearing act: What happened to Apple’s Angela Ahrendts? – October 26, 2015
What the heck is Angela Ahrendts doing at Apple? – September 10, 2015
Apple.com gets redesign; standalone store integrated into main site – August 6, 2015
Apple’s new Union Square store highlights new retail elements, including ‘Genius Grove,’ ‘The Forum,’ and more – May 19, 2016
Apple’s Angela Ahrendts emerges as highest-paid U.S. woman with $83 million – May 5, 2015
Jony Ive and Angela Ahrendts working on Apple Retail Store redesign for Apple Watch – February 16, 2015
Angela Ahrendts recruiting U.S. employees for China; new stores and retail initiatives revealed – January 26, 2015
Apple’s Ahrendts to oversee slew of new retail stores as organizational restructuring planned – June 16, 2014