Major physical changes could be coming to Apple stores as Angela Ahrendts era is in full swing
Under the leadership of retail chief Angela Ahrendts, Apple is said to be considering major changes to the layout of its retail locations, which may be implemented at some locations in time for the debut of the Apple Watch.
Ahrendts is said to be rethinking certain aspects of Apple's retail presence, according to sources who spoke with Gary Allen of ifoAppleStore. Among the changes that could be made are new seating areas in addition to the existing Genius Bar stools, allowing customers a place to sit and relax.
Certain high-profile Apple Stores have wooden or stone benches, but most stores lack seating areas outside of the Genius Bar. Apple is said to be preparing a pilot program for new seating and other layout changes in select U.S. and Europe stores this spring.
In addition to physical changes at Apple's stores, there are some high-profile personnel changes also going on behind the scenes. According to Allen, Bob Bridger, Apple's vice president of retail real estate and development, will be leaving the company in March.
Bridger's departure is believed to be related to "dissatisfaction with major changes coming to the operation of the retail stores within the next few months" under Ahrendts, according to the report.
Bridger played a huge role in Apple's retail operations until now, co-designing major features like the glass staircase at Apple's SoHo store and the glass ceiling used in Palo Alto.
"Bridger's decision to leave is the latest in a series over of similar moves over the past five years that has drained the company of the retail executives who had a major influence on the chain's success," Allen wrote. "Bridger's longevity and influence are unmatched."
Finally, Ahrendts is also said to have changed up how Apple's market director positions work, with some veterans either leaving the company or being reassigned to smaller roles. The retail chief apparently shrunk market directors' territories to make them more manageable.
Before starting at Apple last April, Ahrendts was CEO of Burberry. Her predecessor was John Browett, who unceremoniously left the company after a tumultuous and short tenure.
Apple Store employees also saw a uniform change this week, with new blue crew neck or polo shirts featuring white Apple logos on the chest. The new shirt choices were part of Ahrendts' ongoing plans to clean up the company's retail operations.
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