Apple's retail chief, Angela Ahrendts, is leaving

Angela Ahrendts

Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Fast Company

Apple's head of retail, Angela Ahrendts, will leave Apple in April, the company said in a press release on Tuesday.

Ahrendts worked at Apple for five years after running Burberry, the fashion house. She was a notable presence at Apple's product launches and was the company's highest-paid executive.

She will be replaced by Deirdre O'Brien, whose new title will be senior vice president of retail and people. She was previously Apple's head of human resources. Advertisement

Ahrendts spearheaded a major retail redesign at her time at Apple, which included a replacement of the "Genius Bar" for service with the "Genius Grove," which featured indoor trees and allowed Apple technicians to roam around the store. But many older stores haven't been refurbished, and Apple at times has seemed to press pause on its retail expansion.

Ahrendts also backed in-store classes at Apple called "Today at Apple." But her quip that she wanted Apple's retail stores to be "town squares" was at times criticized.

Apple stock was flat in after-hours trading.

The entire press release is below:

CUPERTINO - 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.In her expanded role, Deirdre will bring her three decades of Apple experience to lead the company's global retail reach, focused on the connection between the customer and the people and processes that serve them. She will continue to lead the People team, overseeing all People-related functions, including talent development and Apple University, recruiting, employee relations and experience, business partnership, benefits, compensation, and inclusion and diversity.Advertisement

"At Apple, we believe our soul is our people, and Deirdre understands the qualities and strengths of our team better than anyone," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. "For more than three decades, she has helped keep Apple focused on serving customers and enriching lives. She's an exceptional leader and she's been a vital partner to our retail teams around the world since the very beginning. I am thrilled to work alongside Deirdre in her new role, and I know our 70,000 retail employees will be, too."

"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. "It is the opportunity of a lifetime to work with, and learn from, such a talented, diverse and imaginative team. I am looking forward to this journey, and to continuing the important work of the People team in supporting all of Apple's amazing employees."

Apple today operates 35 online stores and 506 retail stores on five continents, staffed by teams who are dedicated to enriching lives and serving their communities. Every Apple retail store location offers innovative programs for customers, including Today at Apple, designed to unlock creativity, inspire learning and encourage connection.
"I want to thank Angela for inspiring and energizing our teams over the past five years," said Tim Cook. "She has been a positive, transformative force, both for Apple's stores and the communities they serve. We all wish her the very best as she begins a new chapter."Advertisement

"The last five years have been the most stimulating, challenging and fulfilling of my career. Through the teams' collective efforts, Retail has never been stronger or better positioned to make an even greater contribution for Apple," said Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of Retail. "I feel there is no better time to pass the baton to Deirdre, one of Apple's strongest executives. I look forward to watching how this amazing team, under her leadership, will continue to change the world one person and one community at a time."