Just shy of a year ago, Apple announced the great management shakeup. iOS founder Scott Forstall was forced out leading to the redesign that was iOS 7. Also gone was Apple’s biggest mistake, John Browett who they hired from British electronics retailer Dixons. He was out after just a few months. Apple again is looking across the pond, this time to luxury retailer Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as its new Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores.
I’d like to get one of the elephants in the room here. Yes, this is the first woman executive to be hired by Apple in a while. The last since longtime General Counsel Nancy Heinen (who was also Jobs’ GC at NeXT) left during the stock scandal. However, Angela has a tendency to break down walls. For the last seven years, the Indiana-native has led prestigious British retailer Burberry. At that position, she was ranked as one of the UK’s highest paid CEOs and at various times one of the most powerful women in business.
Coming from a high end fashion retailer might allow her to succeed where Browett failed. Browett favored profit margins over all. That is how they do it in general electronics retailers. To do that, he tried to institute changes that alienated both the Employees and the customers. Most of all, it compromised the experience. Apple learned that traditional retail experience was not their way. They had to look outside for a solution.
Luxury retail, however, might provide a closer match. Despite the product, Burberry retail and the Apple Stores have a lot in common. The stores have a similar design language and minimalist design that maximizes the amount of product in a small space. Luxury retailers also have more demanding customers who place a premium on service and experience. That will translate well to Apple. Most of all, she has proven herself to be be able to successfully and profitably run a business. This could end up as an excellent hire.
Angela Ahrendts will start at Apple during the Spring of 2014. Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey will replace her at Burberry Her duties will include not only the retail stores, but the online store as well. She will report directly to CEO Tim Cook. Do you think this was a good hire? Give us your thoughts below and on Social Media.