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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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