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9to5 Mac reports that Angela Ahrendts, who five years ago left her job leading Burberry and went to Apple to become senior vice president of Retail, leading a “dramatic redesign of the company’s retail stores,” will step down in April for “new personal and professional pursuits.” She will be succeeded by Deirdre O’Brien, the company’s VP of People, who will become SVP of Retail + People.

In its coverage, the Wall Street Journal writes that “Ms. Ahrendts presided over a sizable retail expansion that punctuated the company’s luxury-brand appeal and, more recently, close observers say she was a capable caretaker of Apple’s successful retail strategy but that little changed radically under her tenure.” The story also points out that Ahrendts pushed for “an expansion of Apple’s retail business that increasingly thrust Apple stores into prestigious locations in the world’s fashion capitals, including the Champs-Élysées in Paris and Piazza del Liberty in Milan. Ms. Ahrendts pushed for flagship stores in Seoul, Thailand and other locales outside North American and European markets. She also championed the idea of refashioning Apple stores as ‘town squares,’ gathering places in local communities where people could work with Apple’s staff to learn how to better use their iPhones, iPads, Macs and other products.”

Perhaps it is inevitable in any chain, but for my money - and I am an enormous Apple fan and user - the Apple Stores can be just as inconsistent now as they were when Ahrendts started. There tend to be too many employees talking to each other, and one can wait way too long to get help. But, when you get someone great, especially at the Genius Bar, it can be as good an experience as in any retailer. Often better. But I think that they’ve spent a little too much time and money trying to be upscale and too little time being deeply relevant. Just sayin’…


• North Carolina-based organic grocery chain Earth Fare has named Dr. Angela Hind to be its new Chief Medical Officer, charged with working “across all departments to enact and oversee a corporate health and wellness strategy that informs our guiding principles of new product selection and merchandising to ensure we only provide the healthiest assortment for the communities we serve.”

The announcement notes that “Hind practiced Internal Medicine for nearly 20 years. After witnessing the growing number of chronic illnesses in patients, Hind sought additional training in molecular toxicology and Functional Medicine as a way to create an integrative approach to prevent and treat disease through diet, toxin avoidance, and stress reduction.”
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