Apple appoints Burberry CEO as new SVP of retail

Faith Merino · October 15, 2013 · Short URL:

Angela Ahrendts is a pretty marked contrast to her two predecessors

Nigh on one year after the ouster of John Browett, Apple has finally named a new retail head: Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts. The announcement was made late Monday night.

“I am thrilled that Angela will be joining our team,” said Tim Cook, in a statement. “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.”

Ahrendts will actually be operating within a newly created created role, which involves oversight of retail stores as well as online stores. Apple’s 408 brick-and-mortar stores worldwide generated a combined $18.8 billion in revenue in 2012. Apple’s total revenue for 2012 was $156.5 billion. All told, its retail stores 4.1 million square feet.

Ahrendts comes to Apple with some pretty notable achievements under her (very stylish) belt. In her seven years as CEO of Burberry, the UK fashion house has seen revenues triple, making it the UK’s largest apparel firm by market cap. She has since become the UK’s highest paid executive at $27 million a year. 

Ahrendts was one of several candidates being considered for the role of Senior Vice President of Retail after the previous retail chief, John Browett, made a number of big staffing goofs that rained a whole lotta bad publicity on the company.

Back in August 2012, Browett admitted that the company had been trying out a new staffing formula at its stores in an attempt to save on costs. Many employees saw their shifts cut and a number of retail stores were consequently understaffed. The blunder prompted headlines that speculated that Apple was looking at some heavy-duty layoffs (which obviously implies financial instability).

Browett had been hired in 2011 to replace Ron Johnson, who crafted Apple’s retail strategy, after Johnson left to become CEO of J.C. Penney. Browett got the boot in October 2012, along with iOS software chief Scott Forstall.

Unlike her two predecessors, who both had MBAs, Ahrendts earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Merchandising and Marketing from Ball State University. She also has had zero experience with technology firms. Prior to her role as CEO of Burberry, Ahrendts was executive vice president at Liz Claiborne and had once served as president of Donna Karan International.

“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,” said Ahrendts, in a statement. 


Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes

Related News