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Last night, Apple announced that it had finally found a new Head of Retail: Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts. Ahrendts has been CEO of the fashion retailer for several years, leading the company through substantial growth in international markets. With that global growth experience and focus on high-end products, she seems like a natural fit to succeed in a role that has been so controversial over the past couple of years.

And Apple CEO Tim Cook seems to agree. The Apple chief executive took the time to keep his employees in the loop regarding the hiring process. Cook sent a company-wide memo this morning that discusses how he found Ahrendts and how she will fit into the Apple culture. While Ahrendts will be running Apple’s physical retail stores, she will also run Apple’s online stores. This is the first time in which the Retail Head’s domain covered both offline and online sales…

Tim Cook says that he long wanted to make the Retail Head role cover both areas of sales, but he has not been confident enough to allow this to happen until he met Ahrendts. “I have wanted one person to lead both of these teams for some time because I believe it will better serve our customers, but I had never met anyone whom I felt confident could lead both until I met Angela,” Cook wrote in the email.

Tim Cook further discusses his interactions with Ahrendts, noting when they met: “We met for the first time last January, and I knew in that meeting that I wanted her to join Apple. We’ve gotten to know each other over the past several months and I’ve left each conversation even more impressed.” Cook also mentions how Ahrendts will fit into Apple’s people oriented culture:

She shares our values and our focus on innovation. She places the same strong emphasis as we do on the customer experience. She cares deeply about people and embraces our view that our most important resource and our soul is our people. She believes in enriching the lives of others and she is wicked smart. Angela has shown herself to be an extraordinary leader throughout her career and has a proven track record. She led Burberry through a period of phenomenal growth with a focus on brand, culture, core values and the power of positive energy.

As Apple noted in its press release, Cook explains that Ahrendts will transition into the role for spring 2014:

Angela will need to focus over the coming months on transitioning her current role at Burberry and will then join Apple in the spring. I am sure as all of you meet her, you will see why I am so excited that she is joining our executive team.

Finally, Cook thanks his top retail staff for running the operations while Cook worked to find a new Senior VP. “I’d like to add a special thanks to all of our retail leaders. Your strength, talent and leadership afforded me the luxury of taking the time to perform an exhaustive search to find the best person in the world for this role,” he said. Apple’s Head of Stores Steve Cano, Head of Real Estate Bob Bridger, and former Finance VP Jim Bean are likely the trio of executives that Cook mentions.

In recent months, Apple has hired other retail executives from the fashion world, including a Senior VP at Levi’s. Apple has also expressed fashion interests with its hires of Yves St. Laurent CEO Paul Deneve and top Nike designer Ben Shaffer. The full text of Cook’s email to employees is below:

Team,

I am thrilled to announce that Angela Ahrendts will be joining Apple as a senior vice president and member of our executive team, reporting directly to me. Angela is currently the CEO of Burberry.

She will lead both our retail and online teams. I have wanted one person to lead both of these teams for some time because I believe it will better serve our customers, but I had never met anyone whom I felt confident could lead both until I met Angela. We met for the first time last January, and I knew in that meeting that I wanted her to join Apple. We’ve gotten to know each other over the past several months and I’ve left each conversation even more impressed.

She shares our values and our focus on innovation. She places the same strong emphasis as we do on the customer experience. She cares deeply about people and embraces our view that our most important resource and our soul is our people. She believes in enriching the lives of others and she is wicked smart. Angela has shown herself to be an extraordinary leader throughout her career and has a proven track record. She led Burberry through a period of phenomenal growth with a focus on brand, culture, core values and the power of positive energy.

Angela will need to focus over the coming months on transitioning her current role at Burberry and will then join Apple in the spring. I am sure as all of you meet her, you will see why I am so excited that she is joining our executive team. I’d like to add a special thanks to all of our retail leaders. Your strength, talent and leadership afforded me the luxury of taking the time to perform an exhaustive search to find the best person in the world for this role.

Tim

Image via Flickr

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5 Responses to “Tim Cook talks hiring of Angela Ahrendts as Retail chief, says she is ‘best person in the world for this role’”

  1. Careful Tim, remember Steve also once fell in love… with Scully :)

  2. acslater017 says:

    Better trade in the suit jacket for a v-neck sweater :)

  3. I don’t know a thing about Angela Ahrendts, and I didn’t know much about Tim Cook when he took over at Apple, but I liked him very much and had confidence in him. As the months turn into years, I’m getting to know HIM much better, and he leaves me more impressed with each major step he takes!

    I sense that Tim’s better than even Steve foresaw. And I think it’s likely we’ll appreciate Angela.

  4. Ryan says:

    Really Steve hired her because he obviously could predict the future and has plans for apple for the next 200 years. Just saying.

  5. William says:

    Reblogged this on William's iBlog and commented:
    Sounds cool.