Apple has been without a leader of its retail and online stores since October of 2012 when John Browett was ousted for his antics with cutting staff and freezing new hires at the company’s nearly 400 retail stores. In November of 2013, Apple announced that Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts would take the reigns after her six-month transition period ended. Today, the changeover is official as Ahrendts is now listed as Apple’s Senior Vice President of retail and online stores.
In addition to its ever-expanding reach of iPhone and iPad devices around the world, Apple’s brick-and-mortar chain of stores has grown significantly over the past few years and CEO Tim Cook confirmed plans for even more during the second quarter 2014 earnings conference call.
Apple currently runs 423 retail stores, an increase of 21 stores from a year ago[via: AppleInsider]. As the number of stores increase, and the company’s net sales grows, the number of employees has dropped from 42,600 to 42,400.
Ahrendts’ task to figure out how to maintain profits while keeping appropriate staffing at Apple retail stores is going to be the most important. According to Cook, Apple has plans to open 30 new stores before the end of the fiscal year 2014.
Customers have complained about long lines and annoying wait times for Genius Bar appointments at Apple Retail stores. Hopefully, better staffing will be a priority for Ahrendts. At my local Apple Retail store, every blue shirt is occupied from the moment the store opens. Even with a scheduled appointment, I regularly have to wait up to 15 minutes to actually speak to a tech.
Apple appears to be investing a lot of attention and money in the future of its retail stores. Ahrendts’ role at the company will be an important one as stores expand around the world.