Burberry CEO to Step Down to Join Apple

Burberry said chief executive Angela Ahrendts will step down next year to take up a new position at Apple, reported the Wall St. Journal today.

Arendts will be replaced by Christopher Bailey, who is currently Burberry’s chief creative officer.

Burberry’s fashions have been changing of late to include more fashion forward statements, especially for the company’s spring line which is being pre-sold at Saks Fifth Ave.

Arendts is largely tributed with having brought the stodgy England based company into the 21st Century, with fashion forward styles, and an endless variety not only of trench coats, but of puffer coats, jeans and now a line of tailored business clothing.

But enough to render her Apple-specific? The company says that they want Arendt to bring their online stores up to date. But Burberry only recently revamped their own site, and it is deficient in many of the bells and whistles that other retail sites already have, such as video which only appears in a fraction of the items.

Because of their high-fashion, luxury approach, the online store also tends not to advertise its sales, and it has no programs for increasing shopper loyalty, like the loyalty programs offered at luxury retailer Saks, and the more medium level Bloomingdales.

This means they often are cannibalized by loyalty programs and store promotions from other doors, such as Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Nordstroms whom all carry a significant selection of goods, and at least in the case of Saks and Bloomingdales have significant promotions, such as Friends and Family, and end of season mark downs that can offer the luxury line at 25 to 45% off the normal retail price.

At least in this respect, Arendt will have a similar lack of experience in promotional work as does Apple, who rarely offers promotions of any kind, and so far, despite high prices that are often three times the cost of a similar product by IBM for example, the company is still hugely successful because of its design and technology.

But judging from how far behind the Burberry sites are from the current standard, it’s hard to see how Arendt can make a significant contribution to the Apple buying experience, except perhaps by hiring good looking models to traipse across its Internet pages.

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