Angela Ahrendts leaves Burberry mid 2014, Christopher Bailey to assume CEO role

In a surprising move, Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, one of the best paid top executives in luxury worldwide announced she is stepping down as CEO of the company mid 2014, her position is to be taken over by Christopher Bailey who would assume a dual role, Creative Director and CEO.

Ahrendts leaves Burberry for Apple, joining the newly created luxury team, including Paul Deneve former CEO of Saint Laurent Paris. Apple is expected to launch an upgraded premium line of products, including a iWatch, going against rival Samsung which created last year its own luxury think tank with several independent consultants and researchers.

“I am profoundly honored to join Apple in this newly created position next year, and very much look forward to working with the global teams to further enrich the consumer experience on and offline. I have always admired the innovation and impact Apple products and services have on people’s lives and hope in some small way I can help contribute to the company’s continued success and leadership in changing the world,” Ahrendts said in a statement.

Burberry chairman Sir John Peace characterized Ahrendts’ exit as “a natural progression,” adding: “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.”

In a separate statement this morning, Burberry released recent trading results, revealing 17 percent growth in retail sales in the six months to the end of September. Total revenue rose 14 percent to £1.03 billion (about $1.59 billion at current exchange rates) helped by double-digit growth in Asia-Pacific and the Europe, Middle East, India and Africa division, and high single-digit growth in the Americas. Anrendts’ move anticipates her prediction that the Chinese slow down in luxury consumption was not a short term one.

Angela Ahrendts leaves Burberry to join Apple