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Angela Ahrendts to join iPhone and iPad maker Apple in shock departure from Burberry

The luxury goods brand's respected CEO will become the technology giant's senior vice president for retail and online stores

Burberry chief executive Angela Ahrendts, is leaving the British luxury goods firm to join technology giant Apple.

She will join the iPhone and iPad maker as senior vice president for retail and online stores next year.

Ms Ahrendts, said she was "profoundly honoured" to be joining Apple, where she will be reporting to the company's chief executive Tim Cook. She will primarily be responsible for growing the group's retail presence.

The 53-year-old said, "I have always admired the innovation and impact Apple products and services have on people's lives and hope in some small way I can help contribute to the company's continued success and leadership in changing the world."

Ms Ahrendts, who is American, spent more than seven years at Burberry, the company known for its distinctive beige check designs, transforming it into a global luxury brand with a growing presence in emerging markets.

She was appointed Burberry chief executive in July 2006 and previously held senior positions at fashion companies Liz Claiborne and Donna Karan.

Yorkshire-born Christopher Bailey will be taking over from Ms Ahrendts as chief executive, while also retaining his role as the firm's chief creative officer.

"I am profoundly moved and humbled to be asked to take on the chief executive role at this company that means so much to me," he said.

"Together, we will continue to push the boundaries of design, technology and communication while never forgetting our heritage, our Britishness and our values."

Apple's chief executive Tim Cook described Ms Ahrendts as an "extraordinary leader" with a "proven track record".

Burberry today revealed 17 per cent growth in underlying retail sales to £1.03 billion in the six months to the end of September.

It saw double-digit retail growth across Asia Pacific and its Europe, Middle East, India and Africa regions, while sales in the Americas grew in high single digits.

Ms Ahrendts's exit in the middle of next year leaves Carolyn McCall and Alison Cooper, the bosses of budget airline EasyJet and cigarette firm Imperial Tobacco respectively, as the only remaining female chief executives heading Britain's biggest listed companies.