Apple’s announcement earlier this week that senior vice president of Retail Angela Ahrendts will be departing from the company in April sent a wave of concern through the industry. Apple’s press release left details of Ahrendts’ departure and promotion of longtime Apple veteran Deirdre O’Brien open to interpretation, causing many to speculate around the terms of her exit and future plans after leaving Apple.
As dust settles following the surprise announcement, indications point to an amicable departure and change of pace ahead for the longtime executive. We first reported yesterday that Ahrendts suggested in a message to Apple’s retail teams that she intended step back from day-to-day management and lead a quieter life going forward. Tim Cook called the announcement “bittersweet.” Today, new details from fashion publication WWD offer additional insight.
According to report, Ahrendts attended Ralph Lauren’s fashion show today in New York and outlined her upcoming summer plans:
“I plan to take the summer off,” said Ahrendts, who declined to disclose what type of job she’d be interested in next. She said she plans to enjoy some traveling before making any new commitments. On her agenda are a Rwanda mission and visiting two of her children in London. Ahrendts said that throughout her marriage, her husband has constantly been moving with her to London and then San Francisco, and now it’s time for him to get a turn.
A second report today from the Financial Times muses that Ahrendts could take up a more significant role at Ralph Lauren in the future. While Ahrendts joined the fashion brand as a non-executive director last year, her comments to this point show little hint at a return to the spotlight after a lifelong career in retail and fashion. FT notes that Christopher Bailey is also rumored to be joining Ralph Lauren, a move that could draw Ahrendts closer to the brand if the rumor pans out. Bailey worked alongside Ahrendts at Burberry prior to becoming CEO after Ahrendts’ departure for Apple in 2014. He later left the company entirely at the end of 2018.
Update: A Ralph Lauren company spokesperson notes that “there are no plans for Angela to join the company outside of her existing capacity as a Board member.”
As questionable analysis that poor fourth quarter iPhone sales drove Ahrendts’ departure comes to pass, it’s perhaps more productive to look ahead to what we do know. SEC filings show Ahrendts’ tenure at Apple ending on April 15th, after which incoming senior vice president of Retail + People Deirdre O’Brien will fully take on her expanded role.
Under O’Brien’s leadership, we can expect to see Apple’s community and people-focused initiatives like Today at Apple expand while the bolts are tightened on Apple’s support and service processes, areas of retail that have frustrated customers in recent years.
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