Apple Adds Burberry CEO To Exec Lineup


High-end fashion retailer Burberry will wave goodbye to CEO Angela Ahrendts in the spring as she transitions into her new position as senior vice president overseeing "strategic direction, expansion and operation of both Apple retail and online stores," according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Ahrendts is credited with breathing new life into Burberry at a time the company was facing serious questions about its value and relevance in the global fashion scene.

"Years ago, Burberry tried to widen their reach and ended up diluting their brand," said Gartner analyst and research vice president Carolina Milanesi in an email to CRN. "As Apple's products end up in more and more households, it is important that their brand does not suffer," Milanesi added.

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Cook said in a statement, Ahrendts "led [Burberry] through a period of outstanding global growth." A feat Apple is trying to repeat by improving sales in foreign markets, but on a much higher scale, Apple revenue is currently over 500 times that of Burberry's revenue, according to a Reuters report.

Milanesi said Ahrendts should be a good match for Apple because the problems Apple is facing now are the same problems Ahrendts was able to solve at Burberry.

"Retail is crucial for Apple as it is the most effective marketing tool they have to convert and retain users, especially in markets that are new for the company," Milanesi said.

Ahrendts' appointment by Cook comes almost a year after John Browett, former head of retail at Apple, departed from the company after only a six-month stint. Prior to joining Apple, Browett was CEO of Dixons, a large, England-based electronics retailer.

"The store experience cannot be a Dixons experience as [Browett] wanted to replicate," Milanesi said. She added, Apple must continue to drive home its "core values of quality, ease of use and aspiration."

Though Apple's recent release of two new iPhones resulted in record-breaking sales, consumers and partners have expressed concern that Apple may be in, or approaching, an innovation dry spell. The company is battling to find a way to retain its high-quality appeal as the market becomes more saturated with its products and similar competing products.

"While having to learn to deal with much heavier [consumer] traffic, Apple needs to retain that high-touch customer experience," Milanesi said.

Ahrendts' success came partly as a result of her ability to advance Burberry's retail stores in the digital realm, including launching a website dedicated to the retailer's trenchcoats, introducing webcast catwalks and spearheading a Google campaign for the brand, according to the Reuters report.

Ahrendts will report directly to Cook beginning in the spring.

In a statement, Ahrendts said, "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."

PUBLISHED OCT. 15, 2013