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Apple names new retail and online stores boss as Ahrendts quits

Angela Ahrendts is stepping down from her role as senior vice president of retail at Apple after five years in the job.

She will be replaced in April by Deirdre O’Brien, who will take on the extended role of senior vice president of retail and people – reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook.

Former Burberry CEO, Ahrendts is quitting Apple, having overseen a transformative period looking after the technology company’s growing and evolving retail and online store estate. Her stated reason for leaving is to explore new personal and professional pursuits.

During her time at Apple, the company has grown its real estate portfolio to 506 stores and 35 regionalised online stores in 25 countries. Her tenure has also overseen various innovations such as the recent launch of a range of Apple ‘town square’ stores that host multiple public services, meeting places and events.

Ahrendts is widely credited with being a tech savvy retail leader, having been in charge of the Burberry team at a time it digitised its stores via the introduction of Apple iPads across its estate to boost clientelling capabilities and staff communication.

Independent IT strategist Craig Crawford, who worked under Ahrendts as vice president IT strategy, architecture and relationships at Burberry, labels her as a transformative leader, and argued that Burberry’s decision to introduce iPads in store and use technology to mobilise its business effectively helped Apple build its Apple for Enterprise business.

“We worked so closely with Apple that they stole Angela!” he said, referencing Ahrendts switch from Burberry boss to head of Apple Retail in 2014.

Ahrendts’ replacement at Apple, O’Brien, has been at Apple for 30 years, most recently leading the people team. She will now blend that role – which includes talent development & Apple University, recruiting, employee relations & experience, business partnership, benefits, compensation, and inclusion & diversity – with running the retail operation.

“I want to thank Angela for inspiring and energising our teams over the past five years,” said Cook.

“She has been a positive, transformative force, both for Apple’s stores and the communities they serve. We all wish her the very best as she begins a new chapter.”

Ahrendts commented: “The last five years have been the most stimulating, challenging and fulfilling of my career.

“Through the teams’ collective efforts, retail has never been stronger or better positioned to make an even greater contribution for Apple. I feel there is no better time to pass the baton to Deirdre, one of Apple’s strongest executives."