Angela Ahrendts’ plan for the future of Apple Retail: China emphasis, mobile payments, revamped experience

Ahrendts succeeds Jobs, Johnson, and Browett (Graphic by Michael Steeber)

When Ron Johnson finalized his decision to move from leading Apple’s retail strategy to become the Chief Executive Officer of J.C. Penney, the executive jumped in his car to drive to Steve Jobs’ home and notify the Apple co-founder in his living room of the decision. During his short car ride to Jobs’ Palo Alto home in the summer of 2011, Johnson likely thought about how he would explain his choice. But what Johnson likely did not imagine is that it would take nearly three years for Apple to find a true new leader for the stores the duo created.

In one of current Apple CEO Tim Cook’s first major missteps, the long-time operations maestro hired John Browett, formerly of Dixons, to run retail. Browett’s hire was immediately met with skepticism from Apple customers and retail employees, but Cook defended the hire and called the British executive the “best [choice] by far” to run Apple’s retail division. In the six months that he ran retail, Browett cut back on employee hours, initiated layoffs, and fell out culturally with the rest of the Apple executive team.

John Browett visiting Apple Store

Alongside Scott Forstall, Browett was ejected from the Cupertino-based company, leaving Tim Cook and head-hunting firm Egon Zehnder, again, with the tall task of finding a suitable replacement for Ron Johnson. As the man who ran Dixons, the United Kingdom equivalent to Best Buy, Browett was in many ways built in the image of Johnson. Johnson ran Apple Retail for nearly a decade, and before that he was an executive at both Target and Mervyns. But unlike Browett, Johnson fit into Apple’s culture and was close with both Jobs and Cook throughout his tenure.

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Apple finally finds new Head of Retail: Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts. Will begin in Spring 2014, run Online Stores too

Burberry Group Plc CEO Angela Ahrendts At The London Stock Exchange

Apple today announced that it has finally filled the role of Senior Vice President of Retail: the Cupertino tech giant has hired Angela Ahrendts. Ahrendts is leaving her role as CEO of fashion retailer Burberry to take the top Apple retail job. Ahrendts will also lead Apple’s online stores. She will officially begin her role in Spring 2014.

You may recall Apple replaced its original Head of Retail Ron Johnson, who left for JCPenney but has since been removed from that role, with John Browett, but Browett proved not to be a good fit and was removed almost a year ago to date.

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Poll: Should Apple re-hire Ron Johnson to run its Retail division?

We’re all discussing this here and wondered what the wider Apple community thinks. Read more

Ron Johnson out as CEO of JCP, Apple Retail boss job still open

johnson_jobs

Former Apple Retail Chief Ron Johnson is out at JCPenney after his radical retail redesign failed to ignite sales in the same manner in which Apple Stores had grown accustomed. Ron Johnson left Apple in 2011 for the JCP job after a decade at Apple.  He helped design the original Apple Store concept after being lured away from Target by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. He pioneered concepts like the Genius Bar which was unheard of at the time but still a growing trend in the industry.

We know more than a few folks who would like to see him back at Apple which meanwhile has found him difficult to replace. One such attempt was the hiring and subsequent firing of John Browett, a former Dixon’s UK CEO.

Johnson continued to live in the Bay area during his stint at JCP commuting to Plano Texas via Jet so…

https://twitter.com/parislemon/status/321367332289138690

https://twitter.com/adamlashinsky/status/321369011633917952

https://twitter.com/reuters/status/321371936544399360

We’ve reached out to JCP and Apple for comment and will update as appropriate. Press release follows:
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Internal Apple video documents Apple Store philosophy

Washington Square Films (NYC) gave us a rare look at one of the internal videos that Apple has shown its retail store employees. This one is obviously over a year old, with Ron Johnson at the helm (the date says 7/7/2011).

The video is a pretty impressive piece of work from director Peter Sillen for something that never aired publicly. Among other interesting tidbits, the video shows a store mock-up inside Covent Garden (London) in 2008 before construction with Apple execs examining design elements.

The video seems to be the type you might see on TV. And, with the departure of Ron Johnson (just guessing here), it might have been scrapped without stable store leadership to fill in. Bob Bridger, Apple’s vice president of Retail Development, gets significant ‘face time’, as well.

Update: The video was taken down by Apple. We’ve found another mirror in China embedded above. Here’s a mirror. Here’s another.

Thanks, Gary! Read more