Apple Announces Departure of Angela Ahrendts in April, Replaced by Deirdre O’Brien


Apple today announced that Deirdre O’Brien is taking on new responsibilities for Apple’s retail and online stores in an expanded role as senior vice president of Retail + People, reporting to CEO Tim Cook. After five transformative years leading the company’s retail and online stores, Angela Ahrendts plans to depart Apple in April for new personal and professional pursuits.

Less than a year ago, O’Brien was promoted to lead HR-related functions; now, she’s adding retail to her plate. Impressive.

Ahrendts, of course, has made a huge impact on Apple’s retail stores. She has been, I think, successful in pushing stores past a purely retail necessity and into a more relationship-driven role. But while the new retail stores are architectural marvels and are still uniquely good places for trying out the company’s products, the support experience and training seem to be worse than, say, ten years ago. I hope this sort of thing is O’Brien’s focus.

This is largely unrelated to today’s news but, just last week, Vogue Business published an interview with Ahrendts by Suzy Menkes. Odd timing aside, this stood out to me:

When asked about the warning, Ahrendts points out that Apple is primarily a phone company. The iPhone generated 62 per cent of its $266 billion in sales last year, while retail accounts for about a quarter of revenue, according to Erwan Rambourg, managing director at HSBC. “In retail, the phone is not our largest category,” says Ahrendts. “We are actually number one in the company for Mac.”

It makes total sense that Apple Stores sell a lot of Macs, but to hear that it’s even bigger than their iPhone sales indicates just how important these stores are for the Mac.