Burberry chief executive Angela Ahrendts, credited with transforming the luxury retailer, is to exit after eight years to join Apple.

Ahrendts will leave Burberry by mid-2014 as she plans to take up a role at Apple. She will be replaced by Christopher Bailey, currently chief creative officer, a title which he will retain alongside his new duties.

The departure comes as Burberry records total sales up 14% to £1bn in the six months to September 30.

Ahrendts will join Apple in a newly created position as senior vice-president and a member of its executive team, reporting to chief executive Tim Cook.

She will have oversight of the strategic direction, expansion and operation of both Apple retail and online stores.

“I am thrilled that Angela will be joining our team,” said Cook. “She shares our values and our focus on innovation, and she places the same strong emphasis as we do on the customer experience. She has shown herself to be an extraordinary leader throughout her career and has a proven track record.”

Ahrendts said: “I am profoundly honoured 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 follows in the footsteps of John Browett, former Dixons boss who moved to head up Apple’s retail operation. However, he lasted just six months in the job, and now heads up Monsoon.

Ahrendts said of Burberry: “Burberry is in brilliant shape, having built the industry’s most powerful management team, converted the business to a dynamic digital global retailer, created a world-class supply chain, state-of-the-art technology infrastructure, sensational brand momentum and one of the most closely connected creative cultures in the world today. 

“It has been an honour to have partnered with [Burberry chairman] Sir John Peace and Christopher for the past eight years.”

Ahrendts added: “I am confident that, with Sir John’s continued guidance and the executive team’s support, Christopher, as one of this generation’s greatest visionaries, will continue to lead Burberry to new heights. Today, Burberry is not only a great brand, but a truly great company.”

Bailey has been with Burberry since 2001 and has acted as its chief creative officer for the past six years, in which time he has overseen all consumer-facing activities, including product design and development, creative marketing, store design, consumer technology and digital innovation.

Bailey said: “We have a clear strategy to build on, an increasingly powerful brand and an inspiring management team. Together, we will continue to push the boundaries of design, technology and communication while never forgetting our heritage, our Britishness and our values.”

In its half-year results Burberry revealed underlying retail sales surged 17% to £694m and like-for-likes jumped 13%.

Burberry recorded double-digit sales in Asia Pacific and EMEIA areas. It added that online “continued to outperform all regions” and outerwear and large leather goods drove half of its mainline growth.

In the year Burberry opened 14 stores.

Ahrendts said looking ahead the economy is “uncertain” while currencies are volatile.

Sir John Peace thanked Ahrendts for the “incredible transformation” of Burberry in the past eight years. He added: “This chief executive transition is a natural progression and comes as Burberry reports yet another strong first half revenue performance. 

“The new beauty division is fully embedded and the Japan integration is well underway. 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, creating further value for shareholders in the next exciting stage of our evolution.”

Burberry chief executive Angela Ahrendts speaks about her decision to step down