Burberry's (LON:BRBY) CEO Angela Ahrendts is heading to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to run its retail division in the newly created role of senior vice president overseeing the strategic direction, expansion and operation of its retail and online stores. Analysts say that this move could signal the company's plans to revamp the Apple store experience with the same winning strategy that Ahrendts used to rebrand and reestablish Burberry as a leading luxury label. Ahrendts will join Apple's executive team in spring 2014 and report directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
On the new appointment, Cook said in a statement that he is "thrilled" about bringing on Ahrendts, adding that she "shares our values and our focus on innovation, and she places the same strong emphasis as we do on the customer experience." This attention on innovation and customer service will certainly be an asset, considering Apple's stores have been crucial to the brand's success, bringing in $13 million per store in revenue a quarter on average.
Ahrendts has served as CEO of Burberry since 2006 and has largely been credited for helping transform the longstanding luxury brand known for its plaid-lined trench coats into a tech-savvy fashion company, with live-streamed runway shows and a highly influential reach on social media. During her tenure, Burberry more than tripled sales and quadrupled its share price. On Tuesday, Burberry reported first-half sales of £1.03 billion ($1.65 billion), up from £883 million last year, which the brand attributed to strong sales at its wholly-owned retail locations. Ahrendts is "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", she said in an Apple statement.
For the UK-based Burberry, Christopher Bailey, who is currently chief creative officer, is set to replace Ahrendts and keep his current title. Together, Bailey and Ahrendts spearheaded efforts to revitalize the brand over the past few years, regaining the fashion house's exclusive clientele and updating apparel and accessories with more subtle designs and understated offerings.
The year-long search for Apple's new retail chief began when John Browett was fired from the role after only six months, during which time he came under fire for reducing new hires and staff hours. Browett later admitted that he did not fit in with the company's culture. This is the second time this year that Apple has plucked a luxury fashion retail executive to join its leadership team. In July, Paul Deneve left as CEO and President of Yves Saint Laurent to become vice president of Special Projects.
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