Burberry's CEO is trading in her tartan scarves for all things Mac: Angela Ahrendts has been named Apple's senior vice president of retail and online stores.
Apple has gone a year without a retail head, but CEO Tim Cook believes he's finally found the right person for the job. In a memo to his team, Cook said Ahrendts
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.
Although luxury handbags are a far cry from the MacBook Airs we carry in them, Ahrendts has what it takes to bring the same success to Apple as she did to Burberry. Here's why:
- She's got a lot of experience in retail. Before she came to Burberry in 2006, Ahrendts worked for Donna Karan, then Henri Bendel, and rose to executive vice president of Liz Claiborne in 1998.
- She transformed Burberry into a global luxury brand. When Ahrendts arrived at Burberry, they were in a bit of a slump. The company's signature plaid pattern was being illegally reproduced, causing Burberry's shares to plummet to $6.88. Ahrendts was able to bring Burberry back to its luxury roots, urging the company to scale back on brand licensing and to reduce the use of their famous yet overused design. Ahrendts' genius strategy more than paid off: Burberry's shares quadrupled and sales rose from £743m ($118 million) in 2005 to £2bn ($3.1 billion).
- She brought technology to the fashion world. Ahrendts' passion for tech manifested in Burberry. Thanks to her, the company's retail associates are equipped with iPads to help customers in store. Additionally, Burberry teamed up with Apple to promote the company's new iPhone 5 during their Spring/Summer 2014 fashion show, using the phone to capture the runways' most memorable moments.
- She knows how to "Lean In". The Indiana-born business woman may be all-American, but earlier this year, Ahrendts was named the highest paid chief executive in the U.K. — she is also the first woman to top the list. Ahrendts will be the first woman on Apple's senior management team.
- She believes in Apple. In a 2010 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Ahrendts spoke about how she idolized the tech company, saying, “If I look to any company as a model, it’s Apple. They’re a brilliant design company working to create a lifestyle, and that’s the way I see us.”