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Cook thanks Angela Ahrendts in memo to employees over retail chief's departure

Apple CEO Tim Cook has sent a note to retail employees about current section chief Angela Ahrendts' departure and replacement Deirdre O'Brien, calling it an "opportunity to reinforce" company values.

Angela Ahrendts (right) with Apple CEO Tim Cook

Angela Ahrendts (right) with Apple CEO Tim Cook


Following the unexpected announcement that retail head Angela Ahrendts is leaving Apple in April after five years in the role, and the confirmation of Deirdre O'Brien as her replacement on Tuesday, Tim Cook has addressed the 70,000 retail employees around the world about the change.

The tone of the email, acquired by both AppleInsider and by Business Insider, is cordial and hopeful, taking the time to thank Ahrendts' efforts during her tenure leading the iPhone producer's retail efforts. "Angela has inspired and energized our retail teams with the vision of stores as a place where the best of Apple comes together to serve customers and communities," writes Cook, highlighting programs like Today at Apple that has "redefined" the in-store experience for customers.

On O'Brien, Cook advises her move to incorporate managing retail and HR under the title "senior vice president of Retail + People." Noting the over-30 years of experience at Apple, Cook adds O'Brien was part of the team that planned and launched the first Apple online and retail stores, and has "been a part of Retail's exciting expansion and every product launch since."

"This transition gives us an opportunity to reinforce and carry forward the values that make our retail and online stores the best in the world - and our mission to enrich the lives of others," adds the CEO. "As I've said many times, Apple's greatest asset is its people. And with that in mind, the best choice to lead our team became clear very quickly."

Cook ends the email thanking all of its employees for "all you do to help dreamers become doers, to expand human potential and to do the best work of our lives."

Ahrendts is said by Apple to be leaving to pursue "new personal and professional pursuits."

The full email reads:

Team,

I'm writing to let you know about an important leadership change. Today we're announcing the promotion of one of Apple's most passionate and experienced advocates for our customers and employees — and the departure of a much-loved and accomplished leader who has played a transformative role in shaping Apple's retail experiences.

After five years leading Apple's retail and online stores, Angela Ahrendts is planning to leave Apple in April for new personal and professional pursuits. Angela has inspired and energized our retail teams with the vision of stores as a place where the best of Apple comes together to serve customers and communities. During her tenure, the in-store experience has been redefined with programs like Today at Apple, and our relationship with customers is stronger than ever.

This transition gives us an opportunity to reinforce and carry forward the values that make our retail and online stores the best in the world — and our mission to enrich the lives of others. As I've said many times, Apple's greatest asset is its people. And with that in mind, the best choice to lead our team became clear very quickly.

I am thrilled to announce that Deirdre O'Brien will be taking responsibility for our retail teams in a new role as senior vice president of Retail + People. Deirdre brings insight and experience gained over 30 years at Apple — decades spent focusing on the connection between customers and the people and processes that serve them. Working collaboratively across Apple, Deirdre and her teams empower people to lead with purpose and humanity.

Deirdre was part of the team that planned and launched Apple's very first online and retail stores. She has been a part of Retail's exciting expansion and every product launch since. She knows the value of the deep human connections that retail experiences make possible — and she knows this is where Apple shows its heart and soul.

In her capacity as vice president of People, Deirdre and her team have brought elevated focus to how Apple inspires, connects, develops and cares for its employees — essential efforts that she will continue companywide through the People team in her new and expanded role.

As we look forward, finding new ways to elevate our in-store and online experiences, forging deeper relationships with the customers who love our products, I believe that our team, at every level, is the best in the business. I am grateful to Angela for all she's done for Apple, and I'm looking forward to what Deirdre will bring to her new role.

To everyone in Retail, and our employees worldwide, thanks for all you do to help dreamers become doers, to expand human potential and to do the best work of our lives.