Angela Ahrendts Says Apple Store Employee Retention Rate Rose to Historic High of Nearly 89% During Her Tenure

On a recent episode of the RBC Disruptors podcast with host John Stackhouse, Apple's former retail chief Angela Ahrendts revealed that Apple's retail employee retention rate rose from 61 percent to a "historic high" of "nearly 89 percent" during her five-year tenure at the company.

Ahrendts, left, with YouTube star iJustine

"I don't feel that Apple retail is facing near the headwinds that maybe a lot of other retailers are because we've spent the last five years almost changing and evolving, and refocusing if you will," added Ahrendts, citing strong retention rates, redesigned stores, improved communication tools, and more.

Of course, with Apple being one of the world's largest companies, Ahrendts admitted that "there's a challenge a day."

"I think when you run a business that big and that global, and nearly 70,000 employees when I left, there's a challenge a day. I think that if it is a challenge, it's your job to fix the challenge. So when I came in, there were a lot of systems that weren't connected, there wasn't a way to communicate."

Under Ahrendts, Apple introduced new communication tools for its retail employees, including a "Hello" app that provides a daily summary of "need to know" information and a "Loop" app that allows retail employees to share useful tips and tricks amongst each other to help do their jobs better.

Ahrendts also reflected on being recruited by Apple CEO Tim Cook, her early days at Apple, her vision of the retail industry as a whole, and much more. The full interview can be listened to on SoundCloud or Apple Podcasts.

Ahrendts left Apple in April. Her position was filled by Apple's longtime human resources chief Deirdre O'Brien, who now oversees both HR and retail.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores

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Apple to Open Second Singapore Store at Jewel Changi Airport on July 13

Apple has announced that its second Singapore store is set to open at Jewel Changi Airport on Saturday, July 13 at 10.00 a.m.

Photo: Apple

The store has a prime location in Jewel, a new nature-themed entertainment and retail complex on the landside of Changi Airport, which is Singapore's main airport.

Linked to three of its passenger terminals, Jewel features more than 280 shops across five stories, and boasts as its centerpiece the world's tallest indoor waterfall – the 40-meter-tall Rain Vortex – cascading from a vaulted glass roof and surrounded by terraced gardens.

No other information, such the size of the Jewel store, has been provided by Apple. However, the company did reveal to Singapore-based The Straits Times that some brand new programming will be developed exclusively for visitors to the new Jewel store, such as The Magic of Jewel Changi Airport Photo Walk.
This photo walk is said to be around 500m and will allow attendees to explore Jewel's attractions, such as its modern architecture, indoor gardens and its 40m waterfall. Attendees will learn how take photos or videos of these attractions using an iPhone or iPad.

Apple is said to be close to opening another new store in the country, at the Marina Bay Sands resort next to Singapore's central business district. The dome-shaped store will be situated over water, connected to the luxurious resort with a walkway nestled amid palm trees. The site was previously occupied by night club Avalon.

Apple opened its first Singapore store in May 2017 at Knightsbridge mall in Orchard Road. Apple Orchard Road was also the first Apple store to open its doors in South-east Asia.

(Thanks, Chris!)

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Apple Camp for Kids Returns This Summer, Registration Now Open

Update: Apple Camp registration is now open. This year's programs run between July 7 and August 3 in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and select European countries like Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, and Switzerland. Registration begins June 24 in additional countries, including the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.



Apple has announced that registration for its annual summer camp for kids opens June 17 in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.


At the camp, kids aged 8-12 will have the opportunity to explore music, coding, moviemaking, or art and design by participating in a variety of free 90-minute hands-on sessions at Apple Stores. As usual, Apple says all kids must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian for the duration of their visits.

Last year's summer camp ran between July 9 and July 27, with sessions taking place on weekdays between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. local time. Multi-day programs included coding with Sphero robots, beat making and songwriting with GarageBand, and recording and editing short videos with Apple's Clips app for iPad.

For a potential sneak peek, we can look at Singapore, where Apple Camp has been renamed to Apple Summer Camp ahead of its kickoff next week. There, it looks like the programs will be familiar this year:
Creating Your Own Song with GarageBand
In this three-day session, kids aged 8–12 explore how to build their own song. They'll learn rhythm basics, practise making beats and experiment with Smart Instruments to create a melody in GarageBand for iPad. On the final day, Campers will celebrate their new skills by sharing their song with the group. Devices will be provided.

Designing Your Dream Park with iPad
In this three-day session, kids aged 8–12 learn design skills to imagine a park for their community. They'll go on a short walk to gather inspiration and take photos of materials, colours and textures. Then they'll sketch their ideas in the Procreate app using iPad with Apple Pencil to bring their design to life. On the final day, they'll present their park to the group. Devices will be provided.

Coding Fundamentals and Programming Robots
In this three-day session, kids aged 8–12 explore fun activities to learn how to code Sphero robots. They'll start with coding fundamentals like commands, loops and functions, then use blocks of code to create a program using the Sphero Edu app for iPad. On the final day, Campers will program lights, sounds and animations to tell their own story starring Sphero. Devices will be provided.

Directing Your Own Movie with Clips and iMovie
In this three-day session, kids aged 8–12 discover how to create fun video footage using iPad. They'll start with fundamentals of moviemaking like experimenting with camera shots in the Clips app and drawing ideas on storyboards in Keynote. On the final day, they'll apply their skills to make a captivating movie trailer using iMovie, and they'll celebrate their creations. Devices will be provided.
In previous years, kids who have attended Apple Camp have received a free t-shirt. Space is limited and usually fills up fast.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores

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Apple Teams Up With Madonna for Today at Apple Music Lab Classes

Apple and Madonna have teamed up to launch new Today at Apple Music Lab classes where attendees will go hands-on with Crave, a track from Madonna's latest album, and will be able to remix it.

The Today at Apple session will also walk students through deconstructing the song, and there will be details on what inspired her.

Go behind the making of a hit song featuring your favorite Apple Music artists in this series of Music Lab: Remix sessions. Exclusively in Apple Stores, you'll get hands-on with a track direct from the artist. In this session, you'll deconstruct Madonna's song Crave, find out what inspired her, and create your own version of the song using GarageBand on iPhone. Devices will be provided.
Madonna shared the news on her Twitter account this morning, and Today at Apple classes for the Music Lab: Remix Madonna are now available. Attendees can book starting now, with classes kicking off a bit later in June.

The Remix Madonna classes are available at Apple Stores in the United States as well as other Apple retail locations around the world.


Apple has also teamed up with other well-known musicians to create Today at Apple Music Lab curricula. There's a Beat Making class co-created with Swizz Beatz, for example.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores

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Apple Camp for Kids Returns This Summer, Registration Opens June 17

Apple has announced that registration for its annual summer camp for kids opens June 17 in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.


At the camp, kids aged 8-12 will have the opportunity to explore music, coding, moviemaking, or art and design by participating in a variety of free 90-minute hands-on sessions at Apple Stores. As usual, Apple says all kids must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian for the duration of their visits.

Last year's summer camp ran between July 9 and July 27, with sessions taking place on weekdays between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. local time. Multi-day programs included coding with Sphero robots, beat making and songwriting with GarageBand, and recording and editing short videos with Apple's Clips app for iPad.

For a potential sneak peek, we can look at Singapore, where Apple Camp has been renamed to Apple Summer Camp ahead of its kickoff next week. There, it looks like the programs will be familiar this year:
Creating Your Own Song with GarageBand
In this three-day session, kids aged 8–12 explore how to build their own song. They'll learn rhythm basics, practise making beats and experiment with Smart Instruments to create a melody in GarageBand for iPad. On the final day, Campers will celebrate their new skills by sharing their song with the group. Devices will be provided.

Designing Your Dream Park with iPad
In this three-day session, kids aged 8–12 learn design skills to imagine a park for their community. They'll go on a short walk to gather inspiration and take photos of materials, colours and textures. Then they'll sketch their ideas in the Procreate app using iPad with Apple Pencil to bring their design to life. On the final day, they'll present their park to the group. Devices will be provided.

Coding Fundamentals and Programming Robots
In this three-day session, kids aged 8–12 explore fun activities to learn how to code Sphero robots. They'll start with coding fundamentals like commands, loops and functions, then use blocks of code to create a program using the Sphero Edu app for iPad. On the final day, Campers will program lights, sounds and animations to tell their own story starring Sphero. Devices will be provided.

Directing Your Own Movie with Clips and iMovie
In this three-day session, kids aged 8–12 discover how to create fun video footage using iPad. They'll start with fundamentals of moviemaking like experimenting with camera shots in the Clips app and drawing ideas on storyboards in Keynote. On the final day, they'll apply their skills to make a captivating movie trailer using iMovie, and they'll celebrate their creations. Devices will be provided.
In previous years, kids who have attended Apple Camp have received a free t-shirt. Space is limited and usually fills up fast.

Registration in Europe typically begins towards the end of June.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores

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Select Apple Stores Will Live Stream the WWDC 2019 Keynote

A number of Apple Stores will be live streaming the WWDC 2019 keynote for customers to watch tomorrow at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.


We've learned from a source that participating locations include Apple Williamsburg in Brooklyn, Apple University Village in Seattle, Apple Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, and Apple Carnegie Library in Washington, D.C., with the keynote to be streamed on the Video Wall at the back of each store.

The keynote will also be live streamed in the theater room of Apple SoHo in Manhattan, according to our source.

According to 9to5Mac's Michael Steeber and others, the keynote will also be streamed at Apple Downtown Brooklyn, Apple World Trade Center in Manhattan, Apple Union Square in San Francisco, Apple Beverly Center in Los Angeles, Apple Champs-Élysées in Paris, and Apple Regent Street in London.

Apple has not shared a list of stores that will stream the keynote, so we recommend calling your local store to see if they will be hosting a viewing party. As of now, there does not appear to be a way to RSVP, so space will likely be available on a first come, first served basis. There is no fee to attend.

Apple Stores with Video Walls include locations opened or renovated after mid 2015.

Of course, the live stream will also be available online, and MacRumors will have full coverage of the announcements with our own live blog and at MacRumorsLive on Twitter. Follow along tomorrow for up-to-the-minute updates.

Related Roundups: WWDC 2019, Apple Stores

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Angela Ahrendts on Apple Retail Criticism: ‘I Don’t Read Any of it, and None of it is Based on Fact’

Former Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts today did an interview with Bloomberg, where she spoke about her time at Apple.

The opportunity to take the Apple Store experience "to the next level" and have a greater impact on surrounding communities was one of the reasons why Ahrendts joined Apple. She also cited programs like Today at Apple, designed to "help reskill the current generation," as factors in her decision to work for the Cupertino company.

Ahrendts said that looking back at her tenure, the redesign introduced at Apple retail stores around the world was one of her major successes, as were the Today at Apple classes.
Just as I was saying, I think that we were able to redesign the stores, and there are incredible flagships in the pipeline for the next four years. But they're not even stores, we call them town squares or gathering places because the entire community is welcome. [...]

I think the other thing we were just talking about - the in store experience we call Today at Apple and the fact that we were able to completely redefine and redraft some of the roles and create new positions for the teams and create a whole new zone in the store where they could now educate and come up with all the Today at Apple programs.
When asked about criticism of the changes that Apple put in place in its retail stores, Ahrendts said that she doesn't pay any attention to it. "I don't read any of it, and none of it is based on fact," she said. "It's everyone trying to find stories."

She went on to say that when she left Apple, customer retention rates were at an all-time high and loyalty scores hit historic highs. "I know the facts," said Ahrendts.

Ahrendts said that she has no regrets and there's nothing that she would have changed about her work, though she did wish she had moved faster. "We did a lot in five years, but I always challenge myself to move faster and do more," she said.

All in all, Ahrendts called her time at Apple "mission accomplished" because the company was able to reach the goals of its 5-year plan.
We had a five year plan, we executed that five year plan, and there is a tremendous amount in the pipeline that will only continue to make the impact on the communities that we wanted to make.
Ahrendts left Apple in mid-April and has since joined the board of Airbnb. Her role has been taken over by Deirdre O'Brien, now Apple's Senior Vice President of Retail and People.

Ahrendts' full interview can be watched over on Bloomberg.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores

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Apple Previews Carnegie Library Store in Washington, D.C. Ahead of Grand Opening on Saturday

Apple today previewed its upcoming retail store at the renovated Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square in Washington, D.C., just ahead of its grand opening this Saturday, May 11 at 10:00 a.m. local time.


Apple says the store reflects its "most extensive historic restoration project to date," with the company working alongside architecture firm Foster + Partners and conservation experts to restore the building's distinctive early 20th-century Beaux-Arts style, including its marble facade and atrium.

Apple Carnegie Library features a revitalized grand entry plaza on K Street, a new grand entry staircase on Mount Vernon Place, a double-height atrium with an expansive skylight where Today at Apple sessions will be hosted, and a Genius Grove where the library's book stacks were previously housed.

Forum

To celebrate the opening, Apple will be hosting special Today at Apple sessions at the store between May 18 and June 29. The so-called StoryMakers Festival, led by GoldLink, Nigel Barker, No Kings Collective, and more, will focus on storytelling with photos, music, video, and art and design.

Genius Grove

Deirdre O'Brien, Apple's Senior Vice President of Retail + People:
Whether customers come to explore new products, visit one of our Geniuses or unlock their creativity in a Today at Apple session, Apple Carnegie Library is a place for everyone. We are excited to share this magnificent space with all of our visitors in Washington, D.C., and to provide a home for inspiration for the next generation.
Jony Ive, Apple's Chief Design Officer:
I love the synergy between old and new, the juxtaposition of the historic fabric and contemporary design. In its 'new' phase of life, Apple Carnegie Library will be a way for us to share our ideas and excitement about the products we create, while giving people a sense of community and encouraging and nurturing creativity. It has been a significant honor to restore the Carnegie Library for the people of Washington, D.C.
Carnegie Library also features a new D.C. History Center, which includes the Kiplinger Research Library, three galleries, and a museum store, all owned and operated by the 125-year-old Historical Society of Washington, D.C.


Apple's plans to open a store at Carnegie Library were first revealed back in 2016. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently discussed the store in an interview.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores

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Apple Retail Employees Vent Frustrations About Stores Becoming Less ‘Shopper-Friendly’ in Recent Years

A new article by Bloomberg has highlighted some customer and employee frustrations with the state of Apple's retail business, particularly in the wake of changes introduced by former retail chief Angela Ahrendts. According to some current and former Apple employees, the retail stores have become more focused on branding than satisfying shoppers, leading to more complaints lodged against some stores.


Ahrendts left Apple last month after first joining the company in 2014, and Apple executive Deirdre O'Brien has succeeded Ahrendts in the retail position. The shake-up happened as Apple's retail business faces more and more issues alongside slowing iPhone sales.

O'Brien is now tasked with revitalizing Apple's retail business, even if that means moving away from the idea of Apple retail stores as social gathering places, which was the initiative spearheaded by Ahrendts. The former retail chief built stores with less clearly defined locations for checking out and speaking to Apple's Geniuses, in an effort to promote the company as a luxury shopping brand amid the launch of the first Apple Watch and its $17,000 Apple Watch Edition models.

According to Bloomberg's sources, this led to customer confusion and was accompanied by other issues, like less skilled employees and the removal of the traditional Genius Bar at some stores.
The overhaul of the Genius Bar has been especially controversial. Customers looking for technical advice or repairs must now check in with an employee, who types their request into an iPad. Then when a Genius is free, he or she must find the customer wherever they happen to be in the store. Ahrendts was determined to get rid of lineups, but now the stores are often crowded with people waiting for their iPhones to be fixed or batteries swapped out.

Apple was “trying to streamline things,” says one employee, “but in the process made things more difficult for some customers.”
One former Apple executive said that O'Brien is looking to borrow from the past and break up Apple stores into more clearly defined sections. These include areas that promote Apple's growing services business, like Apple Music and Apple TV+. A few employees speculated that she will also bring back the original Genius Bar.

To help boost sales in the interim, Apple has begun offering discounts on iPhones, cheap financing, trade-in offers, and more. These offers were seen around the world, including specific promotions in Australia and China, with Apple typically e-mailing customers about the limited-time discounts. In the United States, Apple even updated its website to promote a monthly payment option for iPhone XR and XS trade-ups.

The first Apple retail store that will open under O'Brien will be the Carnegie Library location in Washington, D.C. on May 11. As of now, Apple still sees its stores as communal gathering places. According to CEO Tim Cook, "We should probably come up with a name other than 'store,' because it's more of a place for the community to use in a much broader way."

Visit Bloomberg to read the full article: "How the Apple Store Lost Its Luster".

Related Roundup: Apple Stores

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Discusses Apple’s Revamped Carnegie Library Store in Washington, D.C.

Apple is set to open a new retail store at the revamped Carnegie Library in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, May 11, and ahead of the grand opening, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Apple retail leader Deirdre O'Brien did an interview with The Washington Post to discuss the new flagship location.

Work on the Carnegie Library Apple Store kicked off two years ago, and Apple has spent an estimated $30 million on the project. $7 million of that went towards facade restoration, $300,000 went to restoring the stair wells, and $2 million was spent on landscaping and site work. Apple is also paying $700,000 per year for the next 10 years to lease the space.


According to Cook, restoring Carnegie Library to its original design standards became the "most historic, ambitious restoration by far, in the world." Apple believes projects like this help showcase "Today at Apple" services and classes, though the company's aim is to get customers to further associate Apple with creativity.
"Our roots are in education and creativity," Cook said. "You think about where the company started from and Steve and the team at the time were very focused on providing people tools that allowed them to do incredible things."

"We've been serving the creative community as a company since the founding of the company, and the truth is everyone should be a part of the creative community," Cook added, "so this is our way to democratize it."
Like other remodeled Apple Stores, Carnegie Library will use the town square design with dedicated sections for the Genius Grove, Today at Apple sessions, and shopping for retail products. Buying something, says Cook is "probably one of the least done things" in an Apple retail location.

People come in to look at new products, and get help with the products that they already own. Apple sees its retail locations as communities rather than standard stores.
"We should probably come up with a name other than 'store,' " he said, "because it's more of a place for the community to use in a much broader way."
The Carnegie Library store will open at 10:00 a.m. local time on May 11, and Apple has six weeks of programs from local artists planned in celebration of the launch.


Apple will be sharing the space with the Historical Society of Washington D.C., which plans to open up a D.C. History Center.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores

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