Sharif Sakr, senior European Editor at Endgame, discusses Angela Ahrendts move to join Apple as senior VP of retail and online sales and the challenge of bringing changes to Apple's retail outlets.
Bloomberg senior West Coast correspondent Jon Erlichman and Gilbert Harrison, chairman & founder at Financo, look at what former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts brings to Apple as senior VP of retail and online sales and how her luxury background may translate into driving technology sales.With competition fast on its heels, and some arguably past its whole feet, and with Wall Street's confidence in its future flagging at best, Apple makes a big move, to the say the least. It isn't just an effort to leverage its 16,000-a-week foot traffic or to optimize its online and retail sales, but perhaps also a play on fashionable technology. Google knows that the success of Glass depends in part on how cool customers look when they wear it. Apple, through Steve Jobs, also knows how crucial design is. So the advent of the iPhone 5c - the colorful new offerings - may simply be a harbinger of things to come. Angela Ahrendts, simply being another figure in that.
What does Apple CEO Tim Cook have to say (emphasis, added)?
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.
TimReference: Tim Cook on Apple’s New Retail Chief, Angela Ahrendts.
In a lengthy interview on September 9th 2010 - Earning her Stripes - The Wall Street Journal described Ahrendts as such below its headline:
From small-town roots in Indiana to the big time as head of Burberry, a $2 billion fashion empire and one of the most widely recognized brands in the world, Angela Ahrendts takes it all in her stride, propelling the company into the digital age without compromising the brand’s soul—or her own
Ahrendts even referenced Apple back then:
“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,” she says.China is on the radar of any CEO with any wider intention of growth, and this point, too, may be part of what is looking more and more as a multiple-pronged play by Apple:
China is the second most important market for Apple after the United States in terms of revenues. The market for high end smartphones is near saturation in the United States but this is not the case in China. From a growth perspective, China is more important than the United States to Apple.
Under Ahrendts, Burberry showed remarkable growth in China. China has 30 cities the size of Paris. All of these cities are ripe for more than one Apple store.Reference: Apple's New Store Chief Brings Impressive Track Record From Burberry.
Finally, Ahrendts' embrace of, and savvy with, digital makes her a superb, all-around attraction for Apple.
It is a wise decision on her part and Apple's to take a methodic approach to the transition: Besides giving her the opportunity to wrap up her affairs at Burberry, it affords the iconic fashion house time to select her successor. In the meantime, as much as time will allow, she can school herself further in Apple's business, people, culture and priorities. I'm sure she'd begun this process well before today's announcement. But this methodic approach gives her the luxury, really, of transitioning without the outright pressure of Apple's and analysts' expectations.
Congratulations, Angela Ahrendts!
Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!
Ron Villejo, PhD