Apple struggled to find someone to fill the Ron Johnson-shaped whole left in its exec team, when the former head of retail moved on to become the chief executive of JCPenney.

Apple struggled to find someone to fill the Ron Johnson-shaped whole left in its exec team, when the former head of retail moved on to become the chief executive of JCPenney.

Former head of Dixons Retail John Browett took on the challenge for a few months but was ousted by CEO Tim Cook after failing to gel with Apple’s unique culture. That was an entire year ago and the consumer electronics (CE) giant has spent this time making sure it doesn’t make the same mistake twice.

Finally, it was announced that Apple had found the right woman for the job of leading the “strategic direction, expansion and operation” of Apple’s shopping experience – CEO of Burberry Angela Ahrendts.

Apple’s retail stores have without doubt been crucial to its massive success. However, while once its stores were the pinnacle of cool and a concept to be stared at with admiration, recent years have seen rivals like Samsung and Microsoft rolling-out their own versions of these brand-boosting hubs.

In addition, since Johnson’s departure, instore innovation appears to have been curtailed somewhat. Apple’s new hire will refocus efforts on keeping its store environment ahead of the curve and making stores stand out from the crowd once again. After all, if Ahrendts can do it at a struggling high-end fashion brand, why can’t she do it at one of the most profitable tech giants in the world?

Ahrendts is the second CEO from the fashion world Apple has poached in a matter of months. The company hired Paul Deneve, former CEO and President of Yves-Saint Laurent, back in July. These hires indicate how Apple is looking to pull the world of fashion into key areas of its business strategy.

Ahrendts already has significant experience in combining tech with up to the minute trends – she oversaw a partnership between the two companies for the launch of the iPhone 5. We believe Ahrendts will make her mark by bringing more trend inspiration, as well as engaging and interactive technology, into Apple’s retail outlets.

Lest we forgot that now Apple has its more “affordable” iPhone 5C on the market primed to capitalise on tech fans in emerging markets, it is imperative the retailer bolsters international growth with the roll-out of stores in new markets over coming years.

Ahrendts’ experience of turning around Burberry’s international business by bringing operations in-house to ensure tighter control is sure to be a benefit for Apple’s future international growth potential.

Louise Howarth, analyst, Planet Retail