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Apple has poached Enrique Atienza from Levi Strauss, a global clothing sales powerhouse, to become a top director for its U.S. Retail market, according to sources with knowledge of the hire. Atienza served as Senior Vice President, Retail Americas and Global Store Operations at Levi’s, according to Levi Strauss spokeswoman Sarah Young. Young also said that Atienza recently left the company, but she would not confirm details regarding the transition or circumstances…

A source says that Atienza will be the director of all retail matters for many regions within the West Coast of the United States, and this role is one of the highest ranking retail positions inside of Apple. Several internal and external candidates were considered for the position, but the external Atienza is said to have been the best fit. While Atienza has already signed on with Apple, he is yet to actually begin his management role. He will officially start in October.

Even as an outsider, Atienza seems to have the mindset of a Tim Cook hire. The retail executive led a transition for Levi’s to streamline its global sales approach to be more consistent and organized:

We completely reorganized the way we operate. Previously, we had an overwhelming assortment of product catered to regional markets … 20 different models across the world … leadership in every country … and a local-only, single-channel mindset … [that made for an] inconsistent customer experience.

Sources also say that Apple’s Steve Cano, who some have compared to Apple Retail pioneer Ron Johnson, was given an expanded Vice President role earlier this year. Cano reports directly to Tim Cook, and Atienza will report to Cano.

Sources also corroborate a recent report that claimed Apple is primarily seeking outside candidates for the Senior Vice President role. Apple is eyeing potential hires outside of the United States, but that is not necessarily Apple’s only option.

Apple has not had a de facto Head of Retail since last fall when John Browett was pushed out. A small number of other Apple retail executives have left Apple over the past year, including VP Jerry McDougal.

Atienza’s recent appointment at Apple seems to be a spark of reversal for that aforementioned negative trend, and this comes at a critical time. Next month, Apple will begin yet another prolific period of products with two new iPhones and at least two new iPads to follow as well as the all-important holiday quarter. Apple Retail will play a critical role in heralding these new products to consumers.

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4 Responses to “Apple poaches Levi’s Senior VP for U.S. Retail as search for chief continues”

  1. Paul Nielsen says:

    sure, because selling blue jeans is just like meeting my needs as a power tech consumer. This sounds just like the beginning of the down turn Apple had when it hired Scully from Pepsi. I like Apple, but I’m not happy about how it’s handling the post-Jobs era.

    • rahhbriley says:

      That seems a bit dramatic. The guy seems well qualified.

    • zomgnerd says:

      That’s the most absurd thing I have ever heard. Scully was in charge, he made the calls on products. This guy is making calls on the store. He will have 0 influence on the finished product, production process, or R&D. Tim Cook needs someone who will harmonize the stores and get asses into the doors, nothing else.

      Most people buy their Apple products outside of the Apple Store (ie Best Buy, Amazon, Apple.com, cellular carrier stores, Walmart, ect). Tim Cook is trying to find someone who will get more people into the stores to buy their products. I think the experiences had with John Browett has changed Cooks views on who they need in the retail store drivers seat. He knows he needs a person who will keep the customer service and buying experience apple is renowned for. Other stores have different customer service requirements for their employees. This could lead to negative feelings about the products the consumer will feel while buying their Apple products or after they have bought it. The culture at an Apple Store is setup to get you feeling right and in the “Apple Cult” mindset. Super excitement and a super experience.