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Apple hires Burberry CEO to run its retail stores

Angela Ahrendts has been appointed to the newly created position of senior VP of retail and online stores at Apple Inc.

Cupertino, Calif. -- Apple Inc. has hired a much-admired fashion industry veteran to run its retail stores. The company announced Tuesday that Angela Ahrendts, CEO of British luxury giant Burberry Group Plc, has been appointed to the newly created position of senior VP of retail and online stores. She will join Apple in the spring from Burberry.

At Apple, Ahrendts, 53, will become a member of the executive team and report directly to CEO Tim Cook. She will be the first woman on Apple’s 10-member executive team.

In a statement, Apple said Ahrendts will have “oversight of the strategic direction, expansion and operation of both Apple retail and online stores.”

“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,” said Ahrendts. “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.”

The appointment fills a major gap in Apple’s lucrative global store operations that goes back to the 2011 departure of Ron Johnson, who resigned as senior VP of retail to head up J.C. Penney. Johnson was replaced by U.K. retail chief John Browett, whose time at Apple was both brief and rocky. He was ousted from the company last year as part of a broader management shakeup.
 
Prior to joining Burberry, Ahrendts served as executive VP at Liz Claiborne Inc., and, prior to that, as president of Donna Karan International. At Burberry, she is credited with more than doubling the brand’s sales since 2006, partially by focusing on the digital side of the business.

“I am thrilled that Angela will be joining our team,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “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.”

The Burberry chief is not Apple’s only fashion hire. In August, it tapped Paul Deneve, former CEO and president of Yves Saint Laurent, to be VP in charge of special projects.

Ahrendts’ role at Burberry will be filled by the company’s chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey, who will hold the titles of chief creative officer and CEO.