October 16, 2013
Apple Finally Hires Someone to Run Their Retail Stores
Apple is a fancy company.
They recently hired the former CEO of fancy French luxury group Yves Saint Laurent to work on “special projects.” (Many people think this means a watch.)
Last year Eddy Cue joined the executive board of Ferrari, leading many people, I’m sure, to ask him if he could “hook them up.”
And of course, there’s Jony Ive. Or should I say, “Sir Jony Ive?”
I should. To borrow from his own language, the man is “unapologetically” British.
So it makes sense, then, to bring on the former CEO of British clothier Burberry to run their retail operations.
And that’s just what they’ve done. Starting Spring 2014, Angela Ahrendts will take over the newly created position of Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Operations.
Ahrendts started with Burberry in 2006 when, apparently, the brand was going through a bit of an identity crisis. Though iconic, (you immediately recognize that pattern, don’t you) they were a little less than pleased with some of the riffraff who were seen in their duds. She helped turn the company around and make them even more profitable than they had been before she arrived.
That’s just the kind of performance Apple could really use.
In case you’ve forgotten, Apple hasn’t had a proper vice president of retail in about a year — or a year and a half, if you don’t count that brief stint served by John Browett.
Ron Johnson left his position at Target and helped Steve Jobs bring his retail Shangri-La to life in the early 2000s. Then, in 2011, he decided to leave the company and take an open CEO position at struggling American retailer J.C Penny. He gave it his best, but things were simply too dire at Penny’s and the company ditched him in April.
He apparently didn’t want to come back to Apple, and while I’m sure the offer was never extended his way, it was rumored that he had some beef with taskmaster Tim Cook who wanted him to focus on driving sales rather than building experiences as Jobs had asked him to do.
Apple turned to John Browett, the former head of British retailers Tesco and Dixons (in that order), to fill Johnson’s shoes. Even as they made this decision several people familiar with the way these British stores were run questioned Apple’s move. Their concerns were justified; Browett’s ten months on the job represented some of the worst in Apple retail history. The New York Times did an entire piece about how terribly retail employees were treated and how mismanaged the stores had become. One of his biggest flubs occurred when he tried to tamper with the scheduling system. The changes led to understaffed stores and deeply cut hours for employees. In fact, some employees told MacRumors they had been laid off as a result of this tampering.
As mentioned earlier, Browett only lasted ten months before Tim Cook dropped an Ive-designed Aluminium axe on his and Scott Forstall’s head.
So here’s to Ahrendts and her new job at Apple retail. May she do an even better job than Johnson, without whom Apple retail wouldn’t even be a thing.