Apple poaches raincoat transformer to run retail

From macs to Macs: Angela Ahrendts, CEO of London-based fashion chain Burberry's, is on her way to Cupertino.
Written by Mark Halper, Contributor
Apple in her eyes. CEO Angela Ahrendts has transformed Burberry's image in large measure through a comprehensive web strategy that has spiced up the user experience. The model above is one of many on the Burberry site. Ahrendts is heading to Apple to run retail.


Angela Ahrendts, the CEO who so hipped up the image of London-based luxury fashion chain Burberry's that no one seems to call their raincoats "mackintoshes" anymore, is going to sell Macs after all.

Ahrendts is on her way to Apple, where CEO Tim Cook has hired her to run retail operations, Apple announced in a press release.

In the newly created post, she will oversee the strategic direction for both physical and online customer touch points for all of Apple's products including Mac computers, iPhones, iPads and all those other 'i's".

The Indiana-born 53-year-old has been widely credited with transforming Burberry into a brand that appeals to the younger set. In a June 2012 feature article, Fortune Magazine wrote that "Ahrendts has been bold reinventing Burberry's image and operation since she arrived at the British company six years ago. Her moves have paid off handsomely: Annual sales of some $3 billion are month than double 2007 levels, and the stock has returned nearly 300 percent."

Her corporate makeover has relied heavily on a comprehensive digital strategy including an avid Web initiative and fervent use of social media. Burberry's main website, called "Burberry World" has won plaudits for being as much "experience" as commerce. Its artofthetrench.com site features stylish photos of people in trench coats - what many Brits used to call a "mac", short for "mackintosh" raincoat.  She encourages Burberry employees to use Facebook and Twitter on company time.

Ahrendts' digital blitz "made Burberry a standout in the luxury business, which has historically shied away from technology for fear of eroding its aura of exclusivity," Fortune noted.

Ahrendts also infused youth: About 70 percent of employees at London HQ were under 30 at the time of the Fortune story.

In a way, Ahrendts has had Apple in her eyes all along: She was an early adapter of Apple's iPad tablet computer when she outfitted Burberry staff with them. Under her watch, Burberry launched a line of iPad cases - raincoats, you could call them.

Ahrendts will join Apple in the spring, so the next Mac you buy could be from her. Just try not to get it wet.

Photo is from Burberry.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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