Forbes contributor Mark Rogowsky recently wrote a smart analysis of how former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts will simultaneously fit into Apple’s culture and shake up the established order as she begins her new role at the company as head of retail.
Among the most interesting points of the article are these:
1. Just as Apple has kept tight control over its products and distribution, Ahrendts led a movement to end Burberry's licensing agreements and distribute primarily through company-owned retail outlets.
2. Under Ahrendts, Burberry grew to 70 stores in China. Apple has just 8.
3. Apple is currently sitting on a tremendous cash reserve. Combined with the company’s stated desire to control distribution and the Apple experience, and Ahrendts’ experience in launching retail outlets, it may be very likely that we’ll see growth in the number of Apple retail outlets.
All signs seem to point to an expansion of Apple’s retail outlets. Not every market will warrant a flagship store, and having smaller footprint stores allows the company to be more accessible to core customers while still controlling the retail experience. It will be critical for Apple to base their store location strategy on concentrations of their loyal shoppers, and prioritize markets for growth to avoid costly mistakes.
And for those still questioning whether or not a fashion-to-tech crossover is possible, consider this: during her time at Burberry, Ahrendts focused heavily on the integration of technology in retail and was known to follow tech news just as closely as fashion news. She also managed to walk the fine line between elevating the image of the Burberry brand while simultaneously instituting the “democratization of luxury” movement, something Apple is still figuring out.
Choosing Ahrendts to lead Apple retail is a daring, yet extremely strategic move. Whether she transforms Apple in the way she transformed Burberry remains to be seen, but the retail world will undoubtedly be impacted by the decisions Ahrendts makes in the coming weeks and months.