Oct 15 - The departure of Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts for Apple has sent shock waves across the luxury retail industry in Europe. Sonia Legg asks what she will bring to Apple and whether her replacement Christopher Bailey will be able to match her success.
She's been credited with turning Burberry into the success story it is today. And Angela Ahrendts' achievements have clearly not gone unnoticed. After eight years with the British fashion house she's joining Apple, taking up the newly created post of senior Vice President. She'll look after retail and online stores and report directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Burberry's Creative Director Christopher Bailey will replace her in the spring. Verdict's Kate Ormrod says it's all come as a bit of a shock to the world of luxury retail. (SOUNDBITE) (English): KATE ORMROD, RETAIL ANALYST, VERDICT, SAYING: "Definitely an unexpected move. Perhaps Angela feels she has achieved all her goals at Burberry. Certainly there is more work for Christopher Bailey to do in terms of building its beauty business and menswear so there is opportunities for growth still." The 157-year-old fashion house has come a long way since it created its trademark camel, red and black check pattern. Its latest results show a rise in retail revenue of 17 percent in the six months to September. Since Ahrendts joined Burberry its share price has risen 250% - 41% in the last year alone. There was a six percent drop after Bailey was named as her replacement. (SOUNDBITE) (English): KATE ORMROD, RETAIL ANALYST, VERDICT, SAYING: "Christopher Bailey is very much a visionary and I think that will stand Burberry in good stead. However, it will be interesting to see how he manages both of the roles - CEO and Creative Director. Having said that there is still a strong management team at Burberry so they will definitely support him." Burberry has a chequered history - in the 1990s it tried to embrace the mass market but ended up alienating its core clientele. Ahrendts firmly refocused on luxury, expanding into emerging markets like China and opening new stores. Her style could well be part of the attraction for Apple - and she fully embraced technology at Burberry. (SOUNDBITE) (English): KATE ORMROD, RETAIL ANALYST, VERDICT, SAYING: "Certainly she can bring expertise to the instore experience and that is definitely something that Apple need to start looking towards. The stores haven't really changed much in the last few years whereas we know Burberry stores have improved greatly - their like-for-likes have seen double digit growth as we have seen today so I think that is definitely what she will bring and that will be her key focus at Apple." The FTSE will lose one of only three female CEOs - Ahrendts is thought to be the index's top earner earning a reported £17 million a year. She'll be hoping to do better than the last British company boss who left London to join Apple. John Browett quit Dixons last year to lead retail expansion - he left six months later.