Angela Ahrendts, the former Burberry CEO, is to leave Apple, where she has been in leading its retail operations for five years, this April.
Apple has said that Ahrendts is leaving the role to take on new “personal and professional pursuits” and that Apple human resources chief Deirdre O’Brien will also take on responsibility for retail moving forward.
Ahrendts, who last week gave an interview in the inaugural Vogue Business newsletter on her vision for retail, said: “The last five years have been the most stimulating, challenging and fulfilling of my career. Through the teams’ collective efforts, Retail has never been stronger or better positioned to make an even greater contribution for Apple.”
Ahrendts was the highest paid executive at Apple (she is believed to have earned $170m in compensation during the past five years, including salary, bonuses and shares) and had been tipped as a potential successor to CEO Tim Cook. She is credited with helping to transform Apple’s retail offer with her vision for creating “meeting places” and centres for learning and interaction, that did not conform to traditional retail practice.
Prior to Apple, she headed Burberry for eight years and, in partnership with former creative chief Christopher Bailey, transformed it from a tired, heritage brand to a global fashion force.
Her departure from Apple will spark speculation that she may return to the fashion industry in which she has spent her entire career, apart from her stint at the tech giant. She began her career with underwear brand Warnaco, moving on to Henri Bendel, Donna Karan (where she first met Bailey), Fifth & Pacific Companies and Liz Claiborne.
She joined Burberry in 2006 where she was reunited with Bailey. Bailey himself has been taking a break from the industry having stood down from Burberry almost a year ago. There will doubtless be conjecture that the successful duo may pair up on a new venture.