Apple has hired Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as its new Senior VP of Retail and Online Stores. Ahrendts became Burberry's CEO in July 2006, and has held various senior positions in the fashion industry, including Executive VP at Liz Claiborne, Executive VP of Henri Bendel and President of Donna Karan International. Ahrendts will transition to her new role in spring of 2014.
Ahrendts will take over the role vacated by previous SVP of Retail John Browett, who was hired by CEO Time Cook in January 2012. He was let go just six months into the job, after a decision to slash costs at Apple's retail stores by reducing new hires and staff hours. Before Browett was fired, Apple publicly admitted that the decision was "a mistake" and reversed it. Unlike Browett, Ahrendts will have an expanded role, taking over both the running of Apple's physical retail stores as well as Apple's online stores.
Ahrendts is the second fashion CEO Apple has hired in the year, back in July the company hired Paul Deneve, former CEO and President of Yves-Saint Laurent. Apple has also recently hired Enrique Atienza, a former SVP at Levi's, and top Nike designer Ben Shaffer, moves which hint at Apple's further push into a design and fashion-focused company.
9to5Mac has posted an internal memo sent by Apple CEO Tim Cook on hiring Ahrendts:
I am thrilled to announce that Angela Ahrendts will be joining Apple as a senior vice president and member of our executive team, reporting directly to me. Angela is currently the CEO of Burberry.
She will lead both our retail and online teams. I have wanted one person to lead both of these teams for some time because I believe it will better serve our customers, but I had never met anyone whom I felt confident could lead both until I met Angela. We met for the first time last January, and I knew in that meeting that I wanted her to join Apple. We’ve gotten to know each other over the past several months and I’ve left each conversation even more impressed.
She shares our values and our focus on innovation. She places the same strong emphasis as we do on the customer experience. She cares deeply about people and embraces our view that our most important resource and our soul is our people. She believes in enriching the lives of others and she is wicked smart. Angela has shown herself to be an extraordinary leader throughout her career and has a proven track record. She led Burberry through a period of phenomenal growth with a focus on brand, culture, core values and the power of positive energy.
Angela will need to focus over the coming months on transitioning her current role at Burberry and will then join Apple in the spring. I am sure as all of you meet her, you will see why I am so excited that she is joining our executive team. I’d like to add a special thanks to all of our retail leaders. Your strength, talent and leadership afforded me the luxury of taking the time to perform an exhaustive search to find the best person in the world for this role.