Apple to Hire Burberry Chief to Head Retail

By Naveen Athrappully, Epoch Times
October 16, 2013 Updated: October 16, 2013    

Apple’s surprise package next spring is not a smarter phone but a welcome addition to its executive lineup. Angela Ahrendts, who is currently the chief executive of luxury brand Burberry, will join Apple in 2014. 

Ahrendts will head retail and online stores as a senior vice president in Apple. Burberry’s success in international markets has been attributed to the exceptional role played by Ahrendts for almost a decade. Over at Apple, she is expected to report directly to CEO Tim Cook.

Ahrendts is not the only luxury design specialist to have joined Apple’s ranks recently. Paul Deneve, the former chief executive of Yves Saint Laurent, was also roped in three months back, followed by Enrique Atienza, former senior vice president at Levi’s, who is currently taking care of the U.S. retail market.

The recent “acquisitions” have been made in the light of Apple’s “iWatch,” which is expected to be released soon. The device has more of a fashion orientation than any of the other Apple products. In-depth working knowledge of the luxury and fashion markets will be essential to the proper positioning of the device.

Furthermore, Apple has been aggressively marketing for expansion in places like China and Russia, places where Burberry already has a strong hold.

Angela Ahrendts will handle the “strategic direction, expansion, and operation” of Apple’s retail and online stores. 

In the press release, Ahrendts says “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.” 

“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 was the president of fashion icon Donna Karen, where she joined when only 29. This was before becoming executive vice president for Liz Claiborne (now Fifth & Pacific), where she worked for 8 years prior to Burberry. Last year, Ahrendts was the best paid chief executive in the FTSE 100 with a total package of almost $27 million.

Regarding the latest move, Tim Cook said in the press release, “I am thrilled that Angela will be joining our team.” 

“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.”

At Burberry, plans are in place for a smooth transitioning from Ahrendts to Christopher Bailey, who will also remain in his position as the chief creative officer.

Burberry has been witnessing a dynamic period with double-digit growth reported in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Europe, India, and Africa. Being one of the UK’s most successful luxury brands, their total revenue has risen 14 percent to $1.64 billion.