Angela Ahrendts to join Apple as retail chief next week


During this afternoon’s quarterly earnings call, Tim Cook announced that Angela Ahrendts will be officially joining Apple next week. The announcement was made last October, but Ahrendts has been under contract with her previous job—CEO of luxury clothing company Burberry—until now.

Ahrendts will join Apple as the Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores, a position that has seen significant turnover in recent years. In 2011, Ron Johnson left for a CEO position at JC Penney, and his replacement, John Browett, was ousted in less than a year due to a conflict in strategy…

Since Browett’s departure, the SVP of Retail position has remained empty, with a team of veteran Apple retail executives reporting directly to Tim Cook. But after a lengthy search, the company announced the high-profile hiring of Ahrendts, who has received wide praise for her work at Burberry. In November, Fortune ranked Ahrendts #4 in their 2013 list of top executives:

“Ahrendts was already having a banner year as the CEO of British fashion house Burberry. The stock was up 29%, vs. the FTSE 100′s 10%, despite fears of a slowdown in greater China and continued ennui in Europe — when she shocked the luxury and tech worlds with news that she was decamping to Cupertino, Calif., to head up Apple’s retail and online stores. Ahrendts takes the reins in 2014, and she will oversee an operation with some $20 billion in annual sales (compared with Burberry’s $3.2 billion).”

And here’s a video of the CEO giving a presentation at TEDxHollywood last year:

The hire is seen by most critics as a win for Apple, and as a possible chess piece for its iWatch rollout plans. Earlier this month, rumors suggested Ahrendts might stay on with Burberry until June in order to pick up a performance bonus, but it appears that Apple made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.