Apple replaces retail boss as sales pressure increases

Deirdre O’Brien a 30-year Apple veteran will lead Apple’s Retail and People teams

Browett seemed like an odd choice in the first place-his former employer was an uninspiring chain more akin to CompUSA than the Apple Store-and spent only 10 months in the job before being asked to leave, reportedly after instituting ill-advised cost-cutting measures.

Apple did not give a reason for Ahrendts' departure, saying only that she was leaving "for new personal and professional opportunities". Ahrendts is one of only five women in top leadership positions at the company, and an executive who some saw as a potential successor to chief executive Tim Cook.

Deirdre O'Brien, soon to be Apple's Senior Vice President of Retail + People.

Apple profits held steady in the most recent quarter, with revenue growth in music, movies, apps and other services offsetting iPhone sales that were down 15 percent from the same period in 2017. Her annual cash bonuses have been tied to net sales and operating income, while her stock grants have partially depended on Apple's stock return versus other S&P 500 companies.

Ahrendts said: "The last five years have been the most stimulating, challenging and fulfilling of my career". Ahrendts is still listed as Senior VP of Retail, though. When Apple hired Ahrendts away from the luxury fashion company Burberry in 2014, it highlighted just how important its stores had become.

Ahrendts' arrival at the Cupertino, California-based company coincided with the roll-out of the Apple Watch, which the company created to be a fashion statement in addition to a wearable piece of technology.

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The goal was to turn Apple stores into forums for collaboration, Ahrendts said at the time. "The brick-and-mortar store still has friction around the consumer experience, and Apple is committed to making it better".

In her capacity as vice president of People, Deirdre and her team have brought elevated focus to how Apple inspires, connects, develops and cares for its employees - essential efforts that she will continue companywide through the People team in her new and expanded role.

Deirdre O'Brien will assume most of Ahrendt's responsibilities and report directly to Tim Cook.

By aligning retail and HR under one leader, maybe O'Brien will be able to identify more quickly anyone who doesn't have the right sort of soul, the Apple soul, and can despatch them more efficiently with her HR hat on.

Ahrendts is departing the company after five years of guiding the retail and Apple Store strategy and was previously the CEO of fashion retailer Burberry.

An electronic screen displays the Apple Inc. logo on the exterior of the Nasdaq Market Site following the close of the day's trading session in New York City, New York, US. But I do wonder: What happens if the time comes when Apple must change course to ensure that its storefronts remain a mind-blowingly triumphant success in what has been a hardscrabble century, so far, for the retail business?

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