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Apple hires Burberry boss Angela Ahrendts to lead its retail operations

Apple has finally found someone to take charge of its retail operations – Burberry boss Angela Ahrendts will leave the UK fashion house in the spring to join the Cupertino company in the newly created post of ‘senior vice president of retail and online stores’.

Ahrendts will take control of Apple’s stores with particular focus on their strategic direction, expansion and operation, the company said in a statement released early Tuesday.

The tech giant has been searching for someone to lead its retail division since John Browett was let go in October last year after just six months in the job. Apple CEO Tim Cook said he’s “thrilled” Ahrendts is joining the company.

“She shares our values and our focus on innovation, and she places the same strong emphasis as we do on the customer experience. She has shown herself to be an extraordinary leader throughout her career and has a proven track record,” Cook said.

That track record refers to Ahrendts’ seven years as boss of Burberry, summed up in no uncertain terms by a recent Forbes profile: “Not only has she revitalized the century-old fashion house with a cool quotient but revenues have nearly tripled to more than $3 billion and stocks have returned 300 percent.” The FT is equally effusive, saying Burberry “has flown” under her leadership.

Significantly, she has overseen Burberry’s rapid and successful expansion in emerging markets such as China, a fact that was no doubt key to her appointment as Cook continues with efforts to expand Apple’s presence in the same markets. Also, if Apple believes consumers in emerging markets see it as a luxury brand, Ahrendts’ skills and experience will be of even greater value to the iPhone maker.

Ahrendts said she was “profoundly honored” to be joining the Cupertino-based company and was looking forward to “working with the global teams to further enrich the consumer experience on and offline.”

She added, “I have always admired the innovation and impact Apple products and services have on people’s lives and hope in some small way I can help contribute to the company’s continued success and leadership in changing the world.”

The two companies collaborated just last month at the London Fashion Show, using the iPhone 5S to photograph and video the fashion house’s spring/summer 2014 runway show, along with happenings before and after the event. One assumes it went rather well.