What’s after Apple: Angela Ahrendts and the future of retail

A part of being iconic was the fact that, by the time I started, the company was 150 years old, and so it goes through a lot of different generations, good, bad, or indifferent, but I think that it has a history and it was a purpose-built company originally – the trench coat – it was, you know, the guys in the trenches at war etc. So, you know, you come in a new generation and how do you respect everything that it was built on? I always say, you gotta look backwards first. And then how do you make it relevant for the you
know the tenure that you’re going to be there. Together the team we decided we were the only luxury brand born from a coat, and so shouldn’t that be the backbone? The core of the business? And shouldn’t that permeate everything? But by the same token, we never leveraged the British-ness so we made that lens or a filter, from the music to the models, to everything we did including when you walked into a store anywhere in the world the person who greeted you had a British accent. Together as a team you come up with a strategy and then you have to stick to that strategy and then it’s consistency and the communication and the celebration when you do achieve things. You get that momentum going. Look: Instagram is the largest mall in the world today and there are so many other things that will keep evolving and moving. And I think with Burberry, we loved looking around the corner and betting on what was next, and I think it’s the number one challenge for retailers today. How as a company do you stay on top of that and you move with that wave? I’d ask the next generation. I went into Apple and I said we’re going to turn ourselves upside down because you know what we have to do and you know what your community needs more so than I do. And I did the same thing at Burberry: we pulled groups and groups of people together, we had young teams of people. I wasn’t good or smart enough to say we should stream the broadway show live in 3D. And honestly, it’s easier the higher up you get to say, ‘No, too expensive, too complicated,’ but we had a young counsel and they would dream and I told my direct reports: ‘It’s your job to execute those dreams,’ because they think differently about things, they are digital natives, we’re not.

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