CUPERTINO -- Apple has hired Bur-berry Chief Executive Angela Ahrendts to head up its retail division, a move that signals the tech giant won't compromise on elegance and luxury even as it tries to expand into overseas markets and attract more middle-income consumers.
Apple announced Monday that Ahrendts will join the company in the spring as senior vice president of retail and online stores, where she will oversee store expansion and operation as well as retail design efforts. Ahrendts' hire fills a yearlong vacancy and brings much-needed leadership and stability to Apple stores, which have been without a top executive since former retail chief John Browett was canned last October, experts said Tuesday.
Ahrendts will become the only top-level woman executive at the company, reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook, and analysts expect her salary to be one of the most generous Apple has ever doled out. Apple did not release her compensation.
Her move from Burberry to Apple gives investors the much-needed assurance that Apple has plans to take retail and design to the next level.
"For Apple to convince her to leave, she must have pretty strong faith in where she thinks the company is going,"said A.M. "Toni" Sacconaghi Jr., a senior research analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.
Ahrendts' departure from U.K.-based Burberry is a demotion, if only in job title, and pulls her away from one of her greatest professional successes. Ahrendts is credited with Burberry's turnaround from a stale clothing line to one of the most recognizable luxury brands in the world, sported by celebrities and mentioned in one of rapper Jay-Z's most popular tunes.
Ahrendts has made no secret of her admiration for Apple, and in a media interview in 2010 she called the company a leader in design and innovation that Burberry looked up to.
Name: Angela Ahrendts
Current position: CEO of Burberry since 2006
New position: Senior vice president of retail and online stores for Apple, reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook, starting spring 2014
Past: President of Donna Karan International, executive vice president of Liz Claiborne
Hometown: New Palestine, Ind.
Education: Ball State University, Indiana