Angela Ahrendts begins revealing her vision for Apple Retail

Madeleine Swain
20 May, 2014
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We’ve heard a lot about Angela Ahrendts’ achievements while she was CEO of Burberry. We’ve also heard plenty about the oh-so generous financial considerations that welcomed her to Apple when she officially took over as the head of Retail last month.

Now we’re finally getting to hear some of her plans for the future of Apple’s retail arm. 9to5Mac reports that the executive has hit the ground running, revamping Retail’s management, checking out the stores personally and talking to their managers in a series of conference calls. “Most importantly, she has outlined a three-part vision for the future of Apple Retail: an emphasis on China, mobile payments and completely revamping the end-to-end Apple Store sales experience,” writes the website’s Mark Gurman.

These courtesy phone calls extend to store managers the world over, by all accounts, with one clearly impressed manager saying, ”Even over the phone, you feel like you are speaking to her as [if] she is sitting right next to you.”

The favourable impression Ahrendts is making is widespread it seems, with employees describing her as “warm and genuine”, “honest”, “passionate” and “so Apple”. This is quite the contrast to her short-lived predecessor, John Browett, whose six-month tenure in the position saw him cut employee hours, instigate lay-offs and fall out with the rest of Apple’s management on a cultural level.

Ahrendt’s focus on China has seen her widen the responsibilities of Denny Tuza, the head of China Retail, with whom she will work directly. In discussing her vision for the future of Apple’s Retail arm, she has made it clear that she believes the tastes of Chinese customers are particularly important, and not just in China itself, but across the world. Accordingly, she is keen to adapt Apple’s retail outlets and marketing to make them more in tune with these tastes.

This is clearly in line with CEO Tim Cook’s plans. Growth in China has long been a focus, with the much publicised deal with carrier China Mobile at the beginning of the year paving the way for an all-time iPhone sales record in the region in this year’s second quarter.

Apple currently has 10 stores China, but has plans in place to increase that by another 20 in the next two years.

Unlike previous Apple Retail chiefs, Ahrendts will have digital stores as well as bricks and mortar ones under her control. While Bob Kupbens was hired by the Cupertino, California company earlier in the year to manage the online stores, Ahrendts has expressed her desire to more closely align the two different retail experiences.

In her walkthroughs of the stores, she has also emphasised her interest in improving various aspects of the retail experience, such as the Apple Store over-the-phone service, Personal Setup and the trade-in program for iPhones.




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