During an interview at the Fortune 2016 Most Powerful Women Summit this week, Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts shared her vision of turning the company’s popular stores into thriving communities. “The store is now the biggest product we produce,” she said.
Since joining Apple two years ago, Ahrendts has been focused on revamping every single one of its retail stores around the world. The Senior Vice President of all things retail dreams of making them more than just shops, but “potential town squares.”
“The store is now the biggest product we produce and we have five new features [for iPhones and iPads],” Ahrendts said. “Accessories are avenues, and the huge digital screen in each store is the forum.”
The community aspect is key, she added. Apple stores will also serve as educational centers, with coding classes for children, which will teach them Apple’s new Swift programming language, starting next year.
Apple now has almost 500 stores worldwide, and by the end of 2016, 95 of them will have been fully redesigned with this new vision. The first locations to receive the makeover were those in San Francisco Union Square and London Regent Street.
These revamped locations now offer “Teacher Tuesdays,” which help educate teachers on how to incorporate technology into classrooms. The new Apple stores also have staff on hand to teach creative skills, and to explain photography apps, Apple Music, and more.
Ahrendts also spoke during the summit about how she was hired by Cook. Before joining Apple, she was chief executive of British fashion giant Burberry, and she met with the Apple CEO during one of her trips to the U.S. for Christmas.
““I told him, ‘I’m not a techie,’” said Ahrendts. “And he said, ‘I think we have 10,000 of those, you are supposed to be here.’”
As talks between Ahrendts and Cook continued, she suggested merging Apple’s retail business with its online store, and shared her vision of becoming a part of the community within each city. Cook was on board and that vision is now taking shape.[via Fortune]