LONDON – Apple said Tuesday that Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts, who used technology to drive a remarkable turnaround at her luxury fashion house, will take charge of the company’s expansion plans and retail operation.
Ahrendts, who will become a senior vice-president at Apple next spring, is credited with helping transform Burberry from an established if stodgy brand known for its iconic trench coats to one of the fashion world’s leading companies. Together with chief creative officer Christopher Bailey, Ahrendts championed melding digital and mobile technology with the runway.
“She shares our values and our focus on innovation, and she places the same strong emphasis as we do on the customer experience,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in a statement.
Bailey, who will become Burberry CEO on Ahrendts’ departure, live-streamed his catwalk shows to fans worldwide through online channels like Twitter. Shoppers who wanted the runway’s coats, shoes and bags could point and click — staking a claim to the hottest fashions months ahead of the items appearing in stores.
The pair proved a powerful team, with Ahrendts presiding over the head office while Bailey oversaw creative marketing, store design and consumer technology, helping complete a turnaround started by another American executive, Rose Marie Bravo.
Burberry was rewarded with growth, particularly in Asia, where luxury and classic British craftsmanship proved a highly successful combination. The company’s share price has consistently outperformed the FTSE 100 stock index, and she has proved one of country’s most prominent female executives.
Burberry on Tuesday reported first-half sales rose 14 per cent to 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion).
The move to Apple Inc. marks another step in the career of Ahrendts, a native of New Palestine, Indiana, who also served as executive vice-president at Liz Claiborne Inc. and president of Donna Karan International.