Angela Ahrendts, the head of Apple’s retail stores, is to leave the company in April after five years in the role.
The former Burberry CEO was appointed in 2014, tasked with overhauling Apple’s retail presence ahead of the launch of the Apple Watch.
Her experience in the world of fashion was seen as desirable as Apple expanded into a new category of device, while it was suggested that CEO Tim Cook wanted to increase sales through the company’s direct channels.
Angela Ahrendts Apple
But despite this focus on sales, Ahrendts is widely credited with turning the portfolio of more than 500 stores worldwide into destinations rather than just places to promote and sell products. This will be even more crucial going forward as Apple has identified customer financing and recycling programmes as key methods of encouraging device upgrades.
Ahrendts departure has been attributed for a desire for “new personal and professional pursuits” and she will be replaced by Deirdre O’Brien, whose role has been expanded to senior vice president of Retail + People.
“I want to thank Angela for inspiring and energizing our teams over the past five years,” declared 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.”
“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,” added Ahrendts.
“I feel there is no better time to pass the baton to Deirdre, one of Apple’s strongest executives. I look forward to watching how this amazing team, under her leadership, will continue to change the world one person and one community at a time.”
The expansion of O’Brien’s role comes at a time when iPhone sales are struggling. iPhone revenue is down 15 per cent year-on-year to $51.9 billion thanks to lower-than-expected sales over the usually buoyant Christmas period.
This has been attributed to market saturation, expensive flagship devices and a battery replacement programme that extends the life of devices.