Angela Ahrendts (image 001)

In a surprising late-night press release, Apple said it’s finally found its new retail chief. In case you missed it, soon-to-be-former CEO of clothing retailer Burberry will be joining the iPhone maker as its new SVP of Retail, responsible for both Apple’s online and offline stores and retail operations across the world.

Today, CEO Tim Cook issued a memo to Apple employees explaining why Angela – after John Browett’s much maligned and short stint as Ron Johnson’s replacement – is “the best person in the world for this role”

According to Cook, since first meeting Angela back in January he immediately knew she was the best fit for Apple. I love that Cook puts emphasis on Angela’s focus on the customer experience, a keystone of the Apple Store success story.

Describing her as “wicked smart”, Cook noted Angela “cares deeply about people and embraces our view that our most important resource and our soul is our people”.

Her predecessor John Browett, who lasted only nine months on the job, caused quite a stir by downsizing Apple’s retail force and cutting costs in order to appease to Tim Cook, resulting in increased employee dissatisfaction with the business and hurting the brand.

Here’s the full Cook memo, via 9to5Mac:

Team,

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.

Tim

Even Apple’s former retail head Ron Johnson had to agree with cook, telling Bloomberg TV that Angela is a “terrific choice,” adding she will be “exceptionally well received” as Apple’s retail boss.

Last month, Angela’s former employer, the luxury fashion brand Burberry, teamed up with Apple on using the iPhone 5s to exclusively shoot and stream the Spring and Summer 2014 fashion show during London Fashion Week.

Burberry’s Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey will replace her as CEO.

Cook notes that Angela led Burberry “through a period of phenomenal growth with a focus on brand, culture, core values and the power of positive energy” and it’s true – Burberry’s annual revenue had nearly tripled under her watch and she became the highest-paid executive in Britain: her 2012 total pay package was £17 million, or about $27 million.

It’s also interesting that Ahrendts will have oversight of both Apple retail and online stores – the first time a SVP of Retail was responsible for both offline and online sales.

“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,” Cook’s email reads.

According to Apple’s press release, Angela will transition into the role for spring 2014:

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.

What’s your read of Cook’s memo and Angela’s hire?

Is she going to fit into the demanding Apple culture?

  • Matt

    I’m not sure if Apple employees should be classified as “troops.” It makes me think of troops over-seas.

    • Martynas

      Are we in the army?

      • Matt

        My point exactly haha

  • Ted Forbes

    Is this retail position preparing her towards becoming the next CEO of Apple?