Angela Ahrendts quits as head of Apple retail

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It's actually quite staggering when you consider her contribution to Apple's Retail initiatives and even more staggering when you consider that these invaluable sessions are held free-of-charge in Apple Retail stores across the globe.

After five years at Apple, senior VP of retail Angela Ahrendts is leaving the company in April.

The departure of Ahrendts was a surprise, given her position as a key Apple executive and the perception she could be in the running to inherit the chief executive's crown from Cook, according to Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives.

"People come to Apple to do the best work of their lives, and our retail teams show their passion every day, in every interaction, all around the world", said Deirdre O'Brien, senior vice president of Retail + People.

Gerber pointed to Apple's growing services business - which includes iCloud, Apple Music and Apple Pay - and questioned why more of their stores are not dedicated to immersive experiences and converting Apple's massive 900 million iPhone users into monthly subscribers. 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.

"The last few years have really been void of the lines around the store, sleeping at the store, waiting for the product", he said. Apple now has 35 online stores and 506 retail stores on five continents.

The chief executive, Tim Cook, warmly acknowledged the former Burberry boss's departure, saying: "I want to thank Angela for inspiring and energising our teams over the past five years".

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"Her focus was integrating the online and offline experience, which in some ways took the focus away from an excellent in-store experience", said Gene Munster, managing partner at Loup Ventures.

O'Brien will become Apple's fourth retail chief since the division was launched by Ron Johnson in the early 2000s.

"If Apple is going to sell music, video, podcasts, this should be a part of the store experience", Gerber said.

Ahrendts was credited with modernising Apple's store designs, integrating the online operation and developing extensive workshops that kept customers coming back to the retail locations.

O'Brien joined Apple from IBM in 1988 to lead production planning at the company's Fremont factory, which made the Macintosh SE. "I look forward to watching how this wonderful team, under her leadership, will continue to change the world one person and one community at a time".

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. "I feel there is no better time to pass the baton to Deirdre, one of Apple's strongest executives". "She has been a positive, transformative force, both for Apple's stores and the communities they serve", Cook said in a statement.

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