Apple hires Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as retail chief

“Apple has poached high-profile Burberry chief executive Angela Ahrendts as it seeks to deepen its push into China and looks for new ways to excite consumers about its products,” Virginia Harrison reports for CNNMoney.

“Ahrendts has been hired for a new role at Apple, taking charge of retail and online stores and reporting to CEO Tim Cook,” Harrison reports. “She will start in the middle of 2014. The move comes as Apple attempts to improve its fortunes in China, a market in which Ahrendts has had great success in the past.”

Harrison reports, “Apple has been without a heavy-hitting head of retail since Ron Johnson left in 2011 for an ill-fated stint as CEO at J.C. Penney. Ahrendts was the highest paid CEO in the U.K. last year. By joining Apple she’ll become one of the highest profile women executives in technology, alongside Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook and Marissa Mayer at Yahoo.”

“The company will hope Ahrendts can help change that. Appointed Burberry chief executive in 2006, American-born Ahrendts has been credited with turning around the luxury fashion brand and expanding its presence in Asia,” Harrison reports. “Under her leadership, Burberry’s market value has increased to £7 billion from £2.1 billion. That expansion was driven in large part by a boom in sales of luxury goods like trench coats, handbags and shoes, to Asia.”

Read more in the full article here.

Apple’s press release:

Angela Ahrendts
Angela Ahrendts
Apple today announced that Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, will be joining Apple in a newly created position, as a senior vice president and member of our executive team, reporting to CEO Tim Cook.

Ahrendts will have oversight of the strategic direction, expansion and operation of both Apple retail and online stores, which have redefined the shopping experience for hundreds of millions of customers around the world. Apple retail stores set the standard for customer service with innovative features like the Genius Bar, Personal Setup and One to One personal training to help customers get the most out of their Apple products.

“I am thrilled that Angela will be joining our team,” said Cook. “She shares our values and our focus on innovation, and she places the same strong emphasis as we do on the customer experience. She has shown herself to be an extraordinary leader throughout her career and has a proven track record.”

“I am profoundly honored to join Apple in this newly created position next year, and very much look forward to working with the global teams to further enrich the consumer experience on and offline,” said Ahrendts. “I have always admired the innovation and impact Apple products and services have on people’s lives and hope in some small way I can help contribute to the company’s continued success and leadership in changing the world.”

Ahrendts will join Apple in the spring from Burberry, where she serves as CEO and has led the company through a period of outstanding global growth. Prior to Burberry, she was executive vice president at Liz Claiborne Inc., and earlier in her career she served as president of Donna Karan International.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, this seems like a sounder move than hiring the guy from Dixons.

Related articles:
Burberry CEO discusses iPhone 5s collaboration with Apple – September 17, 2013
Apple grants Burberry early access to iPhone 5s for fashion show photography – September 12, 2013
Apple’s long hunt for retail store chief continues – January 7, 2013
Burberry to outfit retail staff with Apple iPads in China stores – April 13, 2011

Tim Cook’s email to employees announcing hiring of Angela Ahrendts as retail chief – October 15, 2013
Apple hires Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as retail chief – October 15, 2013
Burberry CEO discusses iPhone 5s collaboration with Apple – September 17, 2013
Apple grants Burberry early access to iPhone 5s for fashion show photography – September 12, 2013
Apple’s long hunt for retail store chief continues – January 7, 2013
Apple Retail Stores in dire need of competent leadership – November 7, 2012
What’s – and who’s – next for Apple Retail Stores – October 31, 2012
Tim Cook takes full control of Apple: John Browett and Scott Forstall out; Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi get expanded responsibilities – October 29, 2012
Report traces Apple Store ‘mistake’ all the way to Tim Cook; shift in emphasis from service to profits comes from Cook, say insiders – August 29, 2012
Reports persist of Apple Retail Store budget cuts, emphasis on revenue over customer satisfaction – August 28, 2012
After being Browettized, Apple Retail touts numbers – August 20, 2012
Apple newbie John Browett brings Dixons to Apple Retail Stores – August 17, 2012
Dear Tim Cook: Apple’s retail focus should be on delighting customers, not generating cash – August 16, 2012
Apple Retail Store chief Browett: ‘We messed up’ with Dixons-eque staffing gamble; refutes layoffs – August 16, 2012
Apple retail chief Browett to get $56 million golden hello – May 27, 2012
Apple grants 100,000 shares to new retail head John Browett – April 25, 2012
Tim Cook emails UK customer: John Browett’s role isn’t to bring Dixons to Apple Retail – February 1, 2012
Eyebrows raised over Apple’s hiring of Dixons CEO to run Apple Retail Stores – January 31, 2012
Apple hires Dixons CEO John Browett as new retail chief – January 31, 2012
Burberry to outfit retail staff with Apple iPads in China stores – April 13, 2011

58 Comments

    1. Yes spot on that. And good to have her when so many ‘analysts’ are insisting on the rush to market share, what Apple needs is useful market share not share that devalues the product and turns it into Dell. I think she is coming in at the right time too when retail looks good but is slightly faltering and the image is becoming just a little predictable.

      Turning Burberry around was an incredible achievement and if nothing else will make her very aware of how a unique up market brand can change successfully without blowing all that makes it a prized brand. A new direction without blowing out the past one.

  1. The fit does appear to be better. Time will tell if she makes a mark on the retail side of Apple.

    Whenever I check out the Apple Store near me, the biggest issue is that it is so busy. The Santa Clara store could do with increasing its size.
    The best bit is that opposite the Apple Store is an M$ store. Typically there are 10 times fewer customers in the store so it always looks empty. Fun to see.

  2. I’m thinking if an “iWatch” is to be successful, it needs to be appealing to women*. Apple retail will be key to this. Also, there is no doubt Apple stores are “geeky masculine”. Maybe a slightly softer touch, might do good. My sister-in-law hates going to an Apple store- she walks in talks to the first Apple person she sees, goes right for what she came for and splits out of there faster then you can blink. I like to spend a few minutes in an Apple store and watch little kids and older people** become amazed when they first discover something on a Mac or an iPad. 🙂

    BTW, I’m not trying to be sexiest.

    *obviously to men too, but to be really successful, it needs women.

    **I have an older relative that uses an iPad to read books. Previous to this, it was very difficult for her to read because of poor vision. The iPad means a lot to her. The most difficult thing for her is plugging the 30 pin connector in. She’ll get my 27″ iMac when I upgrade. I’m hoping Mavericks will look more like iOS so it will be easier for her to use both.

    1. You really ought to post here more often, as we have an overabundance of highfalutin opinion set pieces and precious little neighborhood and family intel, which is what really matters as the personal computing revolution washes over what once was a bleak landscape defined by bland and controlling corporate forces.

      So great, to have lived long enough to see the captains of industry so profoundly shaken.

  3. “She geared the expansion of Burberry to China and emerging markets,” he said. “Ahrendts knows the emerging market world far better than most executives… that’s why Tim Cook has chosen her,” Siddiqi said.

    Interesting! I like seeing a woman working with China, who tends to be culturally misogynist. Clearly she has some guts.

    Just please, don’t put another marketing person in charge of Apple ever again. Otherwise, Angela Ahrendts sounds terrific.

    1. Angela Ahrendts IS a marketing person — just one that understands the full span of the business she’s in…we should be thrilled that Tim Cook took his time studying the retail vacancy. She seems ideally suited to the task of vivifying Apple retail in all its incarnations. Many clues:

      1. Marketing Mavens are to beloved and required for any quality business. I think Ahrendts could be terrific for Apple.

        But again: Never let a marketing executive run your company, unless you have a death wish.

        It’s a law of business at this point in time. I’ve spoken facts to the matter regarding my direct experience with the Marketing-As-Management horror at Eastman Kodak on a multitude of occasions, including this week.

        1. I well recall your harrowing stories of Kodak. Not to put too fine a point on it, that experience may have predisposed you to suspicion; for some it might have amounted to trauma. In a parallel vein, I may be predisposed to support strong female leadership because of my own sad past dealing with clueless stuffed shirts and misogynistic geeks. All of it proves only that we are…all too human.

          1. No. That experience brought home exactly what I had learned from Tony Alessandra while at Kodak. I then reviewed this history of Apple and found this was exactly what had happened to them as well. John Sculley was the Marketing-As-Management CEO who headed Apple into it’s marketing catastrophe of 1996. (And to all the people who can’t read what I wrote, let me point out that Spindler was CEO during the catastrophe of 1998, not Sculley. I never said it was Sculley, blahblahblah).

            As for whether males or females make better managers, I’ve had brilliant of each and worthless or each. It’s certainly NOT a matter of gender! It’s all about personality, experience and skills. What I’m pointing out with Marketing-As-Management is THE fundamental personality clash of business: The Relational thinker VS the Productive thinker. They do NOT get along well. But the worst situation is putting a Relational think in charge over a Productive thinker, because the result is total sabotage. It is specifically this problem that brings a business to its knees.

            I write this same subject over and over specifically because it’s THE fundamental personality clash in business and must be avoided at all costs, unless as I say you have a death wish.

            1. I agree your theory has considerable explanatory power. Business management is not a science, though. It’s taught as a series of case studies. The personality category in leadership may not be applicable to all of them.

              As to gender, organisms are hardly interchangeable. In particular, men and women are differentiated by their cognitive apparatus—we are differently wired.

            2. I’d have to agree that not all businesses are alike. Many businesses are exclusively marketing, etc.

              I agree regarding gender of course. But I’ve had terrific women managers and the exact opposite, all due to who they were as people at the time, all the factors that make us individuals. I see have never had a problem working for a man or woman. I find it’s the individual inside that determines the talents and skills. Gender differences are just one part of who we are as individuals.

              I wish we could have a decent conversation. Typing brief stuff here isn’t much of an opportunity. In any case, I always appreciate your thoughts, you smart woman. 🙂

            3. We’re doing all right, Derek. We don’t need lots of words. You admit when you’re wrong. That’s rare in a man. And you’re not usually even wrong (at least in my flighty feminine opinion.) Keep up the good work.

      2. And yes, clearly Ahrendts solved a huge marketing problem at Burberry. But I don’t even have to ask how she got along with the designers. Not well is the answer… UNLESS she is not just a marketing person, which is entirely possible.

        The best business leaders know how to walk the treacherous tightrope of communication between marketing and the producers/creatives who make the business work. Maybe that’s who she is! We shall see.

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