Angela Ahrendts: Is move to Apple linked to iWatch launch?
Burberry chief's defection to Apple underlines the blurring line between tech and fashion, say experts
APPLE'S appointment of Burberry chief Angela Ahrendts to oversee the development of its retail business is an "industry shaking" development that underscores the blurring line between technology and fashion, says the Financial Times.
Ahrendts, whose £16.9m Burberry pay packet made her Britain's highest paid CEO last year, has been hired as Apple's head of retail. The news that the 53-year-old American, widely credited with transforming Burberry into a global fashion brand, was jumping ship wiped six per cent off the value of Burberry shares today.
Writing in the FT, Vanessa Friedman says Ahrendts' appointment is a "great hire" for Apple.
As the first female member of the Californian tech giant's ten-member executive team, it gives the company a "senior woman" in a "world increasingly obsessed with Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer," writes Friedman. That "immediately makes them seem more gender-friendly and PR-able".
But the more significant aspect of Ahrendts' appointment is the way it demonstrates the "increasing give and take between luxury and tech, as great personal gadgets become luxury accessories, design plays a major role in brand equity, and luxury increasingly becomes tech-savvy", writes Friedman.
The BBC points out that Ahrendts' appointment is not without precedent. It comes "just three months" after Apple recruited Paul Deneve, the former chief executive of French luxury group Yves Saint Laurent, to oversee "special projects".
The appointment of Ahrendts is believed to be linked to Apple's development of an iWatch, the BBC says. It's a project in which "an understanding of fashion will be as important as the technology and engineering behind the product".
Ahrendts is set to have more control over Apple's 400-plus stores than her predecessor, former Dixons CEO John Browett. He was "ousted" in October 2012 after just nine months at the company. A leaked report claimed that he had tried to boost profit margins "at the expense of Apple Store employees and overall customer experience", reports Apple Insider.
John Guy, an analyst at Berenberg bank in London, told Bloomberg that Ahrendts and Apple will be a good fit. "She has always been incredibly focused on the digital side of the business," said Guy. "If she was going to go anywhere from Burberry, it would be to that area." ·