Apple has this week announced that it has finally found someone to fill the role of retail chief, after almost a year without one following the ousting of ex-retail boss John Browett in October 2012. Apple has hired Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as its new senior vice president of retail operations, and Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that Ahrendts is "the best person in the world" for the role.
In a company-wide memo sent out to Apple employees this week, Cook described Ahrendts as "an extraordinary leader," and "wicked smart."
Cook says that he has wanted one person to lead both the online and retail stores because he believes it will "better serve our customers."
"I had never met anyone whom I felt confident could lead both until I met Angela," he continues. "She shares our values and our focus on innovation. She places the same strong emphasis as we do on customer experience."
"Angela has shown herself to be an extraordinary leader throughout her career and has a proven track record," he adds. "She led Burberry through a period of phenomenal growth with a focus on brand, culture, core values and the power of positive energy."
Apple has been vague about exactly when Ahrents will begin her role as retail chief, but Cook says: "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."
Ahrendts is Apple's second fashion executive hire in the last few months. In July, it recruited Paul Deneve, former CEO of French luxury brand Yves Saint Laurent as vice president for special projects, igniting speculation about possible new product launches including a TV and a smart watch, dubbed iWatch.
It's been pointed out by former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin that Ahrendts is "a watch lady," and that Burberry recently launched a high-end watch line. According to Lessin, Ahrendts "also took particular interest in the watch retailing space in Burberry stores." This could hint that Ahrendts could contribute to the rumoured iWatch, which speculation suggests Apple has been working on.