Apple’s retail chief is leaving the company after five years in the job.
Angela Ahrendts is leaving in April, the company announced Tuesday, saying she is departing “for new personal and professional pursuits.”
“Ms. Ahrendts, one of Apple’s most highly paid executives and most prominent female leaders, joined the company in 2014 from fashion house Burberry Group PLC and was charged with revamping Apple’s stores and improving employee morale,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
The move comes at a difficult time for Apple.
“The departure is an unusual move for a top executive at Apple, which is facing retail challenges as sales in China have dropped and iPhone sales have turned sluggish,” reported the New York Times.
Ahrendts, 58, had been chief executive at international fashion firm Burberry for eight years.
Although Apple sells iPhones and other products such as the iPad and Mac computer through a wide variety of merchants, its own elegantly designed stores have become a pivotal outlet, especially during the first few weeks after a new device hits the market.
“It was clear that Apple needed new strategies and a potential change on this front to catalyze demand in and outside the all-important retail stores,” Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives.
Apple didn’t give a reason for Ahrendts’ departure, saying only that she is leaving “for new personal and professional opportunities.”
Ahrendts joined Apple amid great fanfare in 2014 after CEO Tim Cook persuaded her to leave a glamorous job running the fashion brand Burberry. To lure her away, Apple gave Ahrendts company stock valued at $70 million in 2014. In her last full year at Apple, she received a compensation package valued at $26.5 million, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Ahrendts’ arrival at the Cupertino, California, company coincided with the rollout of the Apple Watch, which the company designed to be a fashion statement in addition to a wearable piece of technology.
While at Apple, Ahrendts engineered renovations of high-profiles stores in San Francisco, New York, Chicago and other cities in an attempt to transform them into hip places to hang out while shoppers checked out the company’s latest innovations. Her lofty description of the stores as the equivalent of “town squares” became the subject of derision among some analysts and media commentators.