In a surprising announcement, Apple has appointed Deirdre O’Brien as the new Senior Vice President of Retail & People as Angela Ahrendts is set to depart in April. The news caught many off guard as many consider Ahrendts a key player in the revamping and expansion of Apple Stores globally.
Angela Ahrendts came to Apple in 2014 after serving in the role of CEO at Burberry. She focused heavily on integrating the physical store experience with the digital experience and injected a healthy dose of community into the stores. Indeed, there are now 506 Apple Stores globally with 35 online stores across the globe. The reason for her departure is not clear and the only reason given in the Apple Press Release on it was that she was leaving for “for new personal and professional pursuits”.
Replacing her is Deirdre O’Brien, a 30 year veteran of Apple. Her role will be expanding to include the retail division.
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.
What all of this ultimately means for Apple stores is not clear and likely won’t be until this summer once O’Brien is able to establish her footing in her new role.