Apple Hires Burberry CEO to Lead Retail Division

Angela Ahrendts, CEO of fashion house Burberry, will join Apple in the spring to lead the company's online and retail stores.

Consumer electronics giant Apple announced it is bringing Angela Ahrendts, CEO of luxury clothing brand Burberry, onboard next spring in a newly created position, as a senior vice president and member of the company’s executive team, reporting to CEO Tim Cook.

Ahrendts will oversee the strategic direction, expansion and operation of both Apple retail and online stores, which both receive high marks from consumers and design professionals when it comes to their layout and ease of use.

As of July 2013, Apple had 415 retail stores in 13 countries, including 253 in the United States. Although many of the retail outlets are in malls or shopping centers, the company also boasts several flagship locations that feature sleek architectural details like glass spiral staircases, clean, modern lines and, in the case of the company’s 24-hour flagship on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, an all-glass cube that draws in tourists and Apple customers alike.

"I am profoundly honored to join Apple in this newly created position next year, and very much look forward to working with the global teams to further enrich the consumer experience on and offline," Ahrendts said in a statement. "I have always admired the innovation and impact Apple products and services have on people's lives and hope in some small way I can help contribute to the company's continued success and leadership in changing the world."

Prior to Burberry, Anrendts was executive vice president at Liz Claiborne, and earlier in her career, she served as president of Donna Karan International. She has been on Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in the World list, and in February, she was named the ninth most powerful woman in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.

"I am thrilled that Angela will be joining our team," Cook said in a statement. "She shares our values and our focus on innovation, and she places the same strong emphasis as we do on the customer experience. She has shown herself to be an extraordinary leader throughout her career and has a proven track record."

While Apple’s physical retail locations are widely lauded as architecturally forward-thinking and welcoming to potential customers, the company took a hit when the vice president of retail, Jerry McDougal, left Jan. 11. At that time, Apple was still looking to replace John Browett as retail head after Browett, a former executive with U.K. big-box retailer Dixons Retail, was fired last autumn.

The fashion house and the tech giant have had a relationship. Last month, Apple and Burberry collaborated with an event that coincided with the launch of the iPhone 5S, which was used to capture and share photos and video before, during and after the Burberry runway show in London during fashion week.

Using the device’s iSight camera, Burberry shot photos and video for runway and beauty looks, product details and backstage moments. The collaboration was an effort to reimagine how Burberry engages consumers, with the hopes of paving the way for significant changes in how they capture and share their content.