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Posted on Fri 18th Oct, 2013 in: Industry Comment, Influence, Public Relations, Social Media by Phil Reed

Very few FTSE-100 chief executives have been lauded to the same extent as Angela Ahrendts over the past seven years.

Since she became CEO of Burberry in 2006, she has led a massive revival in the fortunes of the luxury brand, and consequently its share price has risen by more than 250 per cent since she took charge. She's generated acres of positive PR coverage for Burberry and, let's not forget, she was named by Aberfield last year as one of the FTSE's most influential chief executives. No wonder, then, that investors and analysts went into meltdown this week when American-born Ahrendts announced she was quitting Burberry to join Apple in a new role as head of its retail and online stores. Shares in Burberry dropped by almost five per cent, wiping around £500 million off the company's market value, and commentators were asking whether it could survive the inspirational chief executive's departure (the answer is yes, of course it can). Apple, meanwhile, was praised for its capture of Ahrendts, who transformed Burberry by, among many things, pioneering the use of in-store technology and focusing on using social media to engage with a younger, fashion-savvy customer base. Sound familiar? Apple may be one of the world's most recognisable brands , but in certain key territories - such as China and India - it is being threatened not only by the likes of HTC and Samsung, but by more 'regional' players such as Lenovo, who are undercutting Apple in the smartphone market. Ahrendts was hugely successful in building the Burberry brand in China, so Apple will be hoping she can work her magic again in the Far East. As The Guardian said this week, there are many reasons why she and Apple are a perfect fit. It's not known how much Apple has had to fork out to hire her, but it's reported she made almost £17 million last year. Whatever the tech giant is paying, if she can influence Apple's sales (and stock market value) the same way she influenced Burberry's, she'll have been worth every penny/dime. It will not surprise anyone, therefore, that Angela Ahrendts - once praised for "creating the ultimate social business"? - is our influencer of the week. We take our (checked) hats off to her.

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