Angela Ahrendts Is Leaving Apple

Apple said Tuesday that Angela Ahrendts was leaving the company after overseeing its chain of retail stores for five years. Deirdre O’Brien, head of human resources at the company, will take over Ahrendts’ responsibilities.

Ahrendts, who joined Apple in 2014 after serving as Burberry’s CEO for 12 years, had been Apple’s highest-ranking female executive, managing Apple’s 35 online stores and 506 retail stores on five continents. Combined, the stores generated about $74.3 billion in annual revenue, according to eMarketer.

Ahrendts was also instrumental in expanding Apple’s reach in China, which now counts more than 40 stores. Fortune ranked Ahrendts as No. 12 on its 2018 list of the Most Powerful Women.

In a statement, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that O’Brien would take on the new title of senior vice president of Retail and People. The statement said that Ahrendts is planning to leave Apple in April “for new personal and professional pursuits.”

Ahrendts redesigned Apple’s retail stores with the aim of making them potential town squares in the cities where they are located. “Companies have a huge obligation right now, and the bigger the company, the bigger the obligation,” she told Fortune in 2016. “We are thinking about what the community needs.”

Cook once told Fortune that he was fascinated by Ahrendts’ 2011 TEDx talk on “The Power of Human Energy,” and that once the two met, he knew she was right for the job. “The moment I met her, that was it,” Cook said. “And then it was all recruiting.”

Ahrendts has advocated high-minded ideals that companies can aspire to. In the 2015 Fortune profile Ahrendts explained her approach this way: “The more technologically advanced our society becomes, the more we need to go back to the basic fundamentals of human communication.”

Last month, Ahrendts said in an interview with Vogue Business that there were things she missed about working in the fashion industry. “I loved fashion for 40 years,” she said. “It is wonderful when you know everything there is to know about the industry because you grew up in it. There are things about the fashion industry that I miss, but I went to Apple because I felt it was a calling to one of the greatest companies on the planet.”

Apple’s stock closed Tuesday up $2.93 a share, or 1.7%, to 174.18 a share.

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