Angela Ahrendts. Picture: REUTERS/STEPHAN LAM
Angela Ahrendts. Picture: REUTERS/STEPHAN LAM

New York — Airbnb is adding Angela Ahrendts, a high-profile luxury retail executive, to its board of directors.

Ahrendts, 58, joins the home-sharing startup after a five-year stint overhauling Apple retail operations and more than eight years as CEO of British high-end fashion house Burberry Group.

Airbnb which is preparing for a public stock offering in 2020 has been broadening its mission to become an end-to-end travel company and has been moving to add more luxury listings to its 6-million homes on offer.

“Angela has a reputation for pushing brands to dream big, and she told me that’s exactly what she hopes to bring to Airbnb’s board,” CEO Brian Chesky said.

Under Ahrendts’ watch at Apple, the iPhone maker overhauled its retail operations, redesigning stores into sleek Starbucks-like meeting places with customer service “geniuses” roaming the shop floor. But she was also criticised by some Apple employees for turning the stores into an exercise in branding, that no longer served customers’ basic needs.

Ahrendts has been consistently named a Top 100 Global Executive in rankings by Forbes and Fortune. During her tenure at Burberry, Ahrendts transformed the company into a global luxury brand, tripling the business.

“She has led global brands through transformation, completely redefined the retail experience and done it all while putting customers and communities first,” Chesky said. “I’m so excited for her to join our board and know her innovative thinking will make us a better company.”

Ahrendts has a BA from Ball State University and  also serves on the board of Ralph Lauren. She is the third independent nonaffiliated board member to join Airbnb, alongside former American Express CEO Ken Chenault and Ann Mather, a former CFO at Pixar, who also serves on the board of Netflix and Google’s Alphabet.