Apple says retail chief Angela Ahrendts leaving in April

Apple’s head of retail operations Angela Ahrendts. (Bloomberg pic)

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple Inc. said Angela Ahrendts, the head of retail operations, is leaving the company in April after serving in the role since 2014.

The iPhone maker said Ahrendts is taking on new “personal and professional pursuits.” Deirdre O’Brien, who runs the company’s human resources functions, is taking over the retail unit. Ahrendts joined Apple after serving as the chief executive officer of fashion giant Burberry for almost eight years.

At Apple, Ahrendts overhauled the company’s retail operations, redesigning stores with more open floor plans and a focus on pushing customer service “geniuses” out from behind formal counters into more casual spaces.

Under her watch, Apple expanded stores into areas including Mexico, South Korea, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates. She also more closely coordinated Apple’s brick-and-mortar stores with its online effort, and renovated dozens of older retail outlets.

Ahrendts had been floated by some Apple watchers as a potential successor to current Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.