The opportunity to take the Apple Store experience “to the next level” and have a greater impact on surrounding communities was one of the reasons why Ahrendts joined Apple. She also cited programs like Today at Apple, designed to “help reskill the current generation,” as factors in her decision to work for the Cupertino company.
Ahrendts said that looking back at her tenure, the redesign introduced at Apple retail stores around the world was one of her major successes, as were the Today at Apple classes.
Just as I was saying, I think that we were able to redesign the stores, and there are incredible flagships in the pipeline for the next four years. But they’re not even stores, we call them town squares or gathering places because the entire community is welcome. […]
I think the other thing we were just talking about – the in store experience we call Today at Apple and the fact that we were able to completely redefine and redraft some of the roles and create new positions for the teams and create a whole new zone in the store where they could now educate and come up with all the Today at Apple programs.
When asked about criticism of the changes that Apple put in place in its retail stores, Ahrendts said that she doesn’t pay any attention to it. “I don’t read any of it, and none of it is based on fact,” she said. “It’s everyone trying to find stories.”
She went on to say that when she left Apple, customer retention rates were at an all-time high and loyalty scores hit historic highs. “I know the facts,” said Ahrendts.
Ahrendts said that she has no regrets and there’s nothing that she would have changed about her work, though she did wish she had moved faster. “We did a lot in five years, but I always challenge myself to move faster and do more,” she said.
All in all, Ahrendts called her time at Apple “mission accomplished” because the company was able to reach the goals of its 5-year plan.
We had a five year plan, we executed that five year plan, and there is a tremendous amount in the pipeline that will only continue to make the impact on the communities that we wanted to make.
Ahrendts left Apple in mid-April and has since joined the board of Airbnb. Her role has been taken over by Deirdre O’Brien, now Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail and People.
Ahrendts’ full interview can be watched over on Bloomberg.