Apple's Luxury Cache Boosted by Burberry (Update 1)

Updated from 8:24 A.M. to include more analysis on China in the fifth paragraph.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple ( AAPL) has finally found its head of retail stores, and it's a doozy hire: Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts. The move continues the tech giant's push to be more of a lifestyle and luxury brand, especially as it focuses on China.

Ahrendts' hiring puts Apple further ahead of its competitors, including Google ( GOOG), Samsung, Microsoft ( MSFT) and others. The company is continuing to focus on having all facets of its company be an experience.

Much of Burberry's success has come from its resurgence with Asian consumers, particularly in Hong Kong and China. Apple CEO Tim Cook has put an exceptional amount of effort into making China the most important part of Apple's future. Even though Apple's fiscal third-quarter revenue from Greater China was down 14% year over year, Cook believes it's a huge opportunity for Apple going forward, a vision Ahrendts obviously shares.

"And so I continue to believe that in the arc of time here, China is a huge opportunity for Apple and I don't get discouraged over a 90-day cycle that can have economic factors and other things in it," Cook said on a recent earnings call.

Revenue from Greater China was $4.64 billion in the third quarter, down from $8.21 billion in the fiscal second quarter. Revenue from China will be especially important when Apple reports earnings Oct. 28, as the iPhone 5s and 5c were launched in China at the same time as the United States.

Understandly so, Cook was enthusiastic about Ahrendt's hire, noting she shares the same values seen at Apple. "I am thrilled that Angela will be joining our team," Cook said in a press release. "She shares our values and our focus on innovation, and she places the same strong emphasis as we do on the customer experience. She has shown herself to be an extraordinary leader throughout her career and has a proven track record."

This isn't the first time this year that Apple has gone to the fashion world for a strategic hire.

Earlier this year, Apple hired former Yves-Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve to work on "special projects," reporting directly to Cook.

Ahrendts, who prior to Burberry,was an executive vice president at Liz Claiborne, also will report directly to Cook.

"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," Ahrendts said in a press release.

This isn't the first time Apple and Burberry have collaborated. In September, Burberry used the new iPhone 5s to film its Spring/Summer 2014 collection show, and posted pictures and videos on its Instagram feed.

Ahrendts, who will be the only woman with a senior leadership position at Apple, has helped reshape Burberry into one of the premier luxury brands in the world, helping to generate strong growth and delivering an exceptional return to shareholders, with the stock tripling since 2006. Burberry shares trade in the United States over-the-counter, but are primarily traded in London.

The chart below represents Burberry's shares, traded over-the-counter in New York.

BURBY Chart BURBY data by YCharts

Ahrendts role is a newly created position, and she will start in the spring of 2014.

In her new role, Ahrendts will have control over Apple's strategic direction, expansion and operation of both Apple retail and online stores. Apple previously hired John Browett to run its retail stores, but let him go late in 2012 when it became apparent that Browett was not the right man for the job.

After Browett's departure, Cook had been leading the retail team.

Shares of Apple were higher in premarket trading, up 0.35% to $497.76, after having closed higher in Monday trading.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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