Burberry chief executive Angela Ahrendts will leave the luxury goods firm next year to join technology giant Apple.
Angela Ahrendts, chief executive officer of Burberry, will becomes Apple’s new senior vice president of retail and online stores—a brand new position that oversees the “strategic direction” of both its brick-and-mortar stores and online retail—that reports directly to Tim Cook.
Ms Ahrendts has been with Burberry for almost a decade, and has been credited with turning it into a globally recognized firm. Before joining the brand in 2006, she spent eight years as executive VP at Liz Claiborne. Before that, she had roles at Henri Bendel and Donna Karan International.
At Burberry, Ahrendts will be succeeded as CEO by the brand’s chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey43, who has spent twelve years at the company.
In her new job, Ms Ahrendts is expected to report directly to Apple chief executive Tim Cook.
Apple’s decision to hire Ms Ahrendts comes just three months after it recruited Paul Deneve, the former chief executive of French luxury group Yves Saint Laurent, for “special projects”.
The moves are rumoured to be related to Apple’s development of an “iWatch”, in which an understanding of fashion will be as important as the technology and engineering behind the product.
“Burberry is in brilliant shape. I am confident that Christopher, as one of this generation’s greatest visionaries, will continue to lead Burberry to new heights,” Ms Ahrendts said.
On his part, Mr. Bailey said he was “moved and humbled” to take on the chief executive role. He will also retain his existing chief creative officer role.
“We have a clear strategy to build on, an increasingly powerful brand and an inspiring management team,” he added.
Ms Ahrendts and Mr Bailey will work together over the coming months to try to ensure a smooth transition, the firm said.
Burberry chairman Sir John Peace described Ms Ahrendts’ departure as “a natural progression”.
“I have no doubt that Christopher’s vision and leadership, with the excellent management team in place, will keep Burberry on the forefront creatively, digitally and financially,” he added.
Ms Ahrendts’ departure was announced as Burberry revealed 17% growth in underlying retail sales in the six months to the end of September.
The British fashion brand is one of the UK’s most successful luxury exports.