Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts leaves for Apple and is replaced by Christopher Bailey..will he be up to the challenge
The recent news that Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts is to leave the company in mid-2014 to join tech-giant Apple saw the start of a see-saw effect in the stock market. Burberry shares took a tumble whilst the news had the opposite effect on Apple’s share price. It’s a sign of the respect both industries hold for Ms Ahrendts that her movement from one company to another can cause share-price ripples around the world. It is, however, hardly surprising.
Social Media and Pioneering Technology
Since her appointment to Burberry in 2006, she has taken the company’s value from £2.1bn to £7.03bn, in no small part due to her innovative view of the fashion world and they way in which she’s unafraid to take risks and try something new, tailoring marketing efforts to markets — as demonstrated by the success the company achieved following its launch in China. Merging offline methods whilst also harnessing the power of social-media marketing in the online world, Ahrendts introduced iPads into retail stores and pioneered the live streaming of catwalk shows. She puts great stock on the way a company engages with its consumers via social media, and attributes some of her success to having fully utilised mobile markets.
Her appointment to the newly created role of senior vice-president for retail and online at Apple has fuelled speculation that Apple intends taking its products more deeply into the world of fashion. Some might argue that the somewhat cult following of Apple aficionados already puts them in the fashion market. But appointing Ms Ahrendts shortly after also appointing another name from the world of fashion, Paul Deneve, to vice president of special projects, sends a clear message. He was formerly CEO at Yves Saint Laurent.
Apple has made no secret of its plans to move into the fashion market. The only real question is how and with what. Google’s creation of Google Glass may have fuelled their ambition and speculation that an iWatch is in development runs rife, with Apple watchers eagerly waiting for news. Apple CEO Tim Cook, to whom Angela Ahrendts will report, is reported to have said back in May that wearable technology was an important aspect of the business. Blending technology and apparel seems the next logical move, and is possibly something that Apple customers would welcome. There has already been a move away from wearing traditional wrist watches now that everyone can easily access the time via their smartphone. Tim Cook does, however, acknowledge that in order to win the market to wearable technology, it will have to be with something really incredible.
Given Angela Ahrendts’ track record in creating incredible brand awareness and identity, her new appointment seems likely to be a job created in heaven.