Major physical changes could be coming to Apple stores as Angela Ahrendts era is in full swing

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2015
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.

Angela Ahrendts Apple retail chief


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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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 132
    kpomkpom Posts: 616member
    She's ruffling some feathers, but the stores need some changes. It can get noisy and hectic in the stores at times. Take this as a sign that there will be a further diversification of the product line long term (e.g. more wearables). It sounds like she wants the stores to promote an image of luxury.
  • Reply 2 of 132
    I've always why there isn't a lounge area in Apple Stores. I would love to go in and telecommute at an Apple Store. Of course, there'd need to be an Apple-designed espresso machine available...
  • Reply 3 of 132
    The South Park version of the Genius Bar was pretty funny.
  • Reply 4 of 132
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,585member
    Why would you want seating. Part of the Apple Store experience is the energy, and browsing the different areas and products even while waiting for the Genius Bar. Not sitting around on your butt. We do enough of that already.
  • Reply 5 of 132
    While change can be good, driving out the people behind the most successful retail stores in the world seems somewhat risky.
  • Reply 6 of 132
    "She's ruffling some feathers, but the stores need some changes. It can get noisy and hectic in the stores at times."

    I note that it is never "noisy or hectic" in any Microsoft Store. :)
  • Reply 7 of 132
    freerange wrote: »
    Why would you want seating. Part of the Apple Store experience is the energy, and browsing the different areas and products even while waiting for the Genius Bar. Not sitting around on your butt. We do enough of that already.

    Gotta agree here. We don't want the Apple store turning into a new version of Barnes and noble. The idea is for people to come in, browse avg hopefully purchase. Not seeing the benefit to having purple sitting around surfing the web on the store's WiFi. It just takes away room from the products and keeps non customers in longer making crowded stores more crowded
  • Reply 8 of 132
    jeffarino wrote: »
    "She's ruffling some feathers, but the stores need some changes. It can get noisy and hectic in the stores at times."

    I note that it is never "noisy or hectic" in any Microsoft Store. :)

    How will adding seats to keep people in there longer surfing the web help that? It will make it worse imo
  • Reply 9 of 132
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,400member

    Of course. They have to add a watch counter like in a jewelry store. They aren't going to just hook a $10,000 gold ?Watch to a security strap and put it on a pedestal by the front entrance!

  • Reply 10 of 132
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    So adding seating areas equates to major physical changes?

    I don't mind if she's ruffling feathers. Apple stores are very successful and profitable but in some respects are kind of stale. They haven't changed much since Ron Johnson was running the show.
  • Reply 11 of 132
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,664member
    freerange wrote: »
    Why would you want seating. Part of the Apple Store experience is the energy, and browsing the different areas and products even while waiting for the Genius Bar. Not sitting around on your butt. We do enough of that already.

    I think some additional seating would be beneficial. People can use the iDevices while relaxing instead of standing up and feeling rushed.
  • Reply 12 of 132
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member

    Starbucks have seating areas, Dunkin Donuts, IIRC, do not: separate approaches to the issue.

     

    I expect she sees the stores competing with our own couches....which is reasonable, after all Apple products are available online.

  • Reply 13 of 132
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member

    I am extremely skeptical that buying her out of her last job was worth a dime of it. Time will tell.

  • Reply 14 of 132
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,481member
    Personally I can not say what makes Apple's store so great.

    Most likely it is the products and less about what the store looks or function like. However, we know Steve had a hand in the stores appears and Steve knew what people wanted. At this point I willing to say the stores really do not need to change, and why would you need seating, it just means you will have people just hanging out these for no other reason than it is an Apple store. I hate going into some Starbucks store and seeing all the seating taken up with people just hanging out with nothing better to do. It has going so bad at the local one near me that the manager will chase out the younger crowd becaus they buy a small drink and then hang there for hours talking to their friends.

    I can not remember which Apple store I was in, but one of them had threater style seating in the back and they use do demos and product training there as well as the Genius was set up as a real bar with bar stools verse what I see to day with the tables in the back. I think that is much better than what they have today.
  • Reply 15 of 132
    Again all a seating area will do it take space away from product displays making it more crowded for the fewer units. It will also keep web browsers in the store too which are rarely a purchasing clientele.
  • Reply 16 of 132
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Will losing Bridger over Ahrendts be worth it?
  • Reply 17 of 132
    nobodyynobodyy Posts: 377member

    They should start selling coffee 

     

    8)

  • Reply 18 of 132
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,267member
    I was a skeptic too but changing the colour of the shirts and putting in new seats, well that just blew me away.
  • Reply 19 of 132
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,664member
    jfc1138 wrote: »
    Starbucks have seating areas, Dunkin Donuts, IIRC, do not: separate approaches to the issue.

    I expect she sees the stores competing with our own couches....which is reasonable, after all Apple products are available online.

    The DDs near me have seating.
  • Reply 20 of 132
    kpomkpom Posts: 616member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    So adding seating areas equates to major physical changes?



    I don't mind if she's ruffling feathers. Apple stores are very successful and profitable but in some respects are kind of stale. They haven't changed much since Ron Johnson was running the show.

    Bridger was head of real estate for retail, and he had a major role in selecting locations and construction. His role is a big one to fill. Apparently he wasn't getting along with Ahrendts or didn't share her vision for the future.

     

    My guess is that we'll see some subtle cues from her Burberry days. I don't think she'll try to turn Apple Stores into Burberry stores (Ron Johnson can tell you what trying to turn JC Penney stores in Apple Stores did), but as Apple expands into watches, and potentially other fashion products, we may see window displays, seating areas (not present in Burberry stores, but common in high-end department stores), and more emphasis on aesthetics. The updated blue shirts are a small sign of that.

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