Ahrendts is the latest fashion exec, after Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve and Enrique Atienza, senior VP at Levi's, to join Apple and revamp retail efforts to push upcoming wearable technology including smartwatches.
Ahrendts, 53, will take up her new post in the spring to oversee the strategic direction, expansion and operation of retail and online stores, Cook said in a statement.
Burberry's successful expansion into China under the direction of Ahrendts is likely also attractive to Apple, as the company looks to gain more of the Asian device market against rival Samsung. Burberry currently has 69 stores in China accounting for 14 percent of the company's income.
Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer at the 157-year-old British clothing company, will become CEO. "We will continue to push the boundaries of design, technology and communication," he said in a statement, "while never forgetting our heritage, our Britishness and our values."