Apple’s ex-retail chief Ahrendts brushes off criticism, says ‘I know the facts… Mission accomplished’

“Former Apple Inc. retail head Angela Ahrendts defended her revamp of the company’s stores over the past five years, and called her tenure ‘Mission accomplished,'” Mark Gurman and Taylor Riggs report for Bloomberg. “Today at Apple, the company’s program for teaching customers in stores, was ‘absolutely huge,’ Ahrendts said Friday in an interview with Bloomberg Television at the C2 business conference in Montreal.”

“While the Apple stores were redesigned during her leadership, some consumers and employees felt the dedicated ‘Genius Bar’ service area shouldn’t have been removed and the process of buying products has become more difficult,” Gurman and Riggs report. “There have also been complaints about overall customer service and the knowledge of some employees.”

“Ahrendts dismissed the criticisms,” Gurman and Riggs report. “‘When I left, retention rates were at an all-time high, up over 20 points in the five years, and customer loyalty scores “were at historic highs. Again, I know the facts,’ Ahrendts said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As per facts, yes, she was wildly overpaid in her position by several tens of millions of dollars*, but without Ahrendts, many of Apple’s largest, most impressive Retail Stores wouldn’t exist or be in the process of being build today.

*Cook was likely in a bit of a panic after the Browett debacle, with the position unfilled for so long afterwards, of which Ahrendts astutely took full advantage.

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Two years in, ‘Today at Apple’ is outgrowing Apple Retail Stores – May 23, 2019
How Apple Retail Stores changed for the worse, says former store manager – March 18, 2019
Ron Johnson: Apple Retail Stores ‘are a victim of their own success’ – February 12, 2019
Apple’s new retail head needs to fix the biggest problem with Apple Retail Stores – February 8, 2019
What’s next for Apple’s Retail Store empire? – February 8, 2019
New Apple retail chief Deirdre O’Brien receives stock grant worth up to $8.2 million – February 8, 2019
Angela Ahrendts’ Apple departure points to wider mystery – February 6, 2019
Examining Angela Ahrendts’ five-year tenure as head of Apple Retail – February 6, 2019
Apple CEO Cook thanks Angela Ahrendts in company-wide memo to employees – February 6, 2019
Apple names third retail chief in seven years – February 6, 2019
Apple’s Angela Ahrendts to depart in April; Deirdre O’Brien named senior vice president of Retail + People – February 5, 2019
Apple’s Angela Ahrendts has a plan for next-gen retail – January 29, 2019
Why Angela Ahrendts left Burberry for Apple – June 20, 2018
Ralph Lauren to add Apple’s Angela Ahrendts to Board of Directors – May 9, 2018
Angela Ahrendts is again Apple’s best-paid employee – December 29, 2017
Forbes’ World’s 100 Most Powerful Women: Angela Ahrendts #13, Laurene Powell Jobs #14 – November 2, 2017
Deirdre O’Brien named Apple’s vice president of People – July 21, 2017
Tim Cook took home $10.3 million, Angela Ahrendts earned $25.7 million in 2015 – January 6, 2016
Apple’s Angela Ahrendts emerges as highest-paid U.S. woman with $83 million – May 5, 2015
Apple’s retail chief Angela Ahrendts paid $73.4 million in cash and stock last year; BoD member Drexler steps down – January 22, 2015
Apple’s new retail chief Ahrendts granted $68 million in restricted stock – May 6, 2014

26 Comments

  1. Folks, no one is “right” in everything they do. Angela Ahrendts was a positive influence on Apple Retail, but to assume — as she does — that the “facts” are limited to the “numbers” is shortsighted and naive. And assuming every change she made was positive for everyone is Hubris. Many resist change. We all know this. But that doesn’t mean all change is good for the customer (some things are done for the vendor, and sometimes without regard for the customer).
    I, for one, have come to avoid the Apple Retail Stores. Too crowded, too loud, too difficult and too much — the numbers, in this case, are not compelling. So, perhaps moving Tech Support out of the stores and to AppleCare telephones, etc. is a good, positive step. For the customer, too.

    1. She was a bad hirer. Her salary was ridiculous. She stayed too long. Her add seems to be stores that, after growing in popularity, before she was there, remained too small to meet the growing customer base. No additional revenue from things that she knew, what we thought she knew a lot about, like designer fashion. She should have bright to the Apple tables new line of… like clothes, logo-ed, high quality, high margin, jackets, shirts, wallets, bags, mugs, glassware. Apple fans offer a unique opportunity. We already play 500 to 1000 dollars more then industry going rate and there is really no discounts even as the hardware gets long in the tooth. So no shedding do much as far as I am tell but she got paid a heck of a lot.

  2. There are three main things I think Angela did successfully:

    1) Steady the ship and bring stability after the disaster that was John Browett.

    2) Gave us more beautiful and larger Apple Stores (remember those all aluminium clad walls, so dated now) and started a massive renovation/relocation program for all existing stores.

    3) Implement what I think is starting to become a real asset to Apple which is the Today at Apple program. I’ll admit I really didn’t think much of it until recently. I thought it was gimmick and lacked substance but having recently been to two sessions I’ve changed my mind.
    The new curriculum they are rolling out is surprisingly broad and deep. Obviously different people will get different things out of the sessions and for some they will be of no interest or use at all but that’s fine, it doesn’t have to be for everyone.
    The most important thing about the program is it’s another way Apple gets to interact and spend some serious time directly with their customers, allowing them to form a meaningful connection with them.
    It also makes Apple Retail unique, no one else is doing this and on this scale. The most important thing I think is the kids sessions which introduces kids and teens to the Apple ecosystem very early on. If you aren’t convinced, just drop by and watch one of the kids/teen sessions where they control robots. The level of enthusiasm and interaction can be bought (to be honest the session I saw the 10 or so kids literally took over that part of the store, an issue but still great to see them enjoy it so much). Long term these sessions could be so important.

    So if Angela was brought in to steady the ship, modernise the look of the stores and expand them beyond just a boring retail experience then she did accomplish her mission.

    Sadly she did not correct some of the fundamental user experience issues with Apple Retail stores which probably existed from day one but have become more obvious or made worse as Apple has grown and more people use the stores.

    Things I would like to see change:

    The stores have to get a lot bigger, it’s always so busy and noisy. The multi-floor stores seem to work better as the Genius Grove and Today at Apple tend to be on different floors so it’s not as noisy.
    Make it clearer how to buy stuff and where to get help. The invisible queues are just confusing and give you no idea how long you have to wait. Signage doesn’t kill people Apple.
    To become a meeting place put a coffee shop (Cafe Macs) inside and a quiet area where people can sit, meet up and use the wifi.
    This is not important but it would be nice if they sold merchandise at all Apple Stores rather than just the visitor center new ApplePark. Could state the name of the store on it so you could start a collection.

    Regardless of all the current issues I still think Apple Retail is amazing. Just knowing I can walk into any Apple Store in the world and talk to a real physical person is fantastic and no other PC or mobile company is providing this level of face to face service on this scale.

    1. As many have said here I would also add they need to seriously improve staff training.
      They use to give a lot more detailed, hands on training. They even flew some Geniuses to Cupertino for training.
      Obviously this is not practical anymore because of the scale of the operation now but they need to find a way to ensure staff are still highly trained as it’s really the staff that make the stores and not the architecture.

  3. Tim has done a wonderful job, never perfect, but strives for the best. Who could do better?
    Angela is correct, she stated the numbers which shows her overall effect. Is it perfect, of course not, but who could have done better with all the challenges of retail. I wish Apple continued success, it was, and is, never easy. But I think leadership does the best they can. Thank you Apple!

  4. I went into a mall store to buy an iPad Pro for my wife. It took me a few minutes to find an employee who told me to get in line. I waited for over 20 minutes to get waited on. This is unacceptable in a retail store.

      1. If you are well informed and know what you want. Best Buy is great the are no lines so you can be in and out in just a few minutes. If you are looking for answers then not so much.

  5. Her arrogance speaks volumes. Her focus on Today at Apple has some good spectacle for sure, but try to go in and buy an iPhone case, AirPods or an Apple TV… took almost 10 minutes to get someone to help me, and then she went to go get what I wanted, never to return. I just left…

    This form in one way or archer has been repeated for me and others at their stores.

    Angela added a few good programs but broke what the stores main function was – sales and great support.

  6. The fact that Apple Store employees all to often give customers WRONG information or leave out critical information is unacceptable. I’ve experienced this multiple times in the past 2-3 years. All under Angela’s watch.

    The training store employees get these days is poor to put it politely. Skimping on training is a way to make the financial numbers look better because it lowers overhead costs, but it hurts customer relations. Skimping on training also helps with employee retention (something Angela points to as a benefit of her leadership) because employees are not forced to learn things they don’t want to learn.

    I don’t expect the old days when Apple Stores were staffed by Apple and Mac fans. I don’t expect Apple Store employees to know more about Macs or iPhones than I do. However, I do expect them to NOT give me wrong information. If they don’t know something I EXPECT them to say so and state they rapidly will find someone that will know what the facts are.

    And, I expect to not wait 20 to 30 minutes for someone to help me with an issue with a recently purchased device. One quarter to maybe even half that time is tolerable. Longer is not. Further, when I make an appointment then routinely have to wait 15 or more minutes beyond that specific time something is wrong with the system.

    I can’t think of a single element of the Apple Stores that is better today than it was five years ago. Yes, I’m more Mac oriented than iPhone or iPad oriented (though I have all three types of devices and use them regularly). Yet even given that personal bias and accounting for it, the stores are worse than they used to be. And, my experience is based on stores in multiple states in the U.S., not just my local few stores.

  7. the number of times I’ve been given completely false and BS answers by “Genius” level apple employees exceed the number of fingers and toes I have on my body. they rarely actually know anything about the products they are selling apart from the short list of buzzwords they are told to repeat. M$ stores on the other hand are often full of people with a breadth and width of knowledge that far exceeds any apple store hipster. but thats the culture. Apple is for the rich pointless people. M$/Linux is for the people who want to get work done.

      1. Twice as fast you say. Not really try 100s of times as fast.
        Case in point I am in IT at a fortune 500 company worked there for 30 years. In the past 12 years I have had rates of no more than 1% in a year. Also in the time period the company stopped contributing to our Pension and removed matching contributions or retirement savings. All told I believe my compensation has gone down 15-20%. In the same time period our CEOs compensation has gone up 700% from 1 Million per year to 7 Million per year.

  8. She can claim to know all the facts she fancies….. here is one Giant fact for the rest of us:
    The Apple retail store experience is worse now than it was before she came onboard.. with her ridiculous salary. Plus, unlike some other opinions here.. i think her ‘haute couture’ mindset was a terrible influence on Apple..

    1. Amen, Jimbo.

      When Apple Stores initially launched they were beyond awesome. Now a skeleton of their former selves.

      Angela wrecked the Apple Store experience. For her to state some false reality is FAILED HUBRIS and glad the door hit her arse on the way out…

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