Apple has traditionally sold the most expensive accessories online only, like the $2,700 B&O BeoPlay A9 MKII speaker. "I asked Tim a very simple question: Why do we do it this way?" she said of her boss, Timothy D. Cook, Apple's chief executive. Mr. Cook told her he didn't know, she said.
Ms. Ahrendts's push will have implications for Apple's growth. As of September, the company had 463 retail stores worldwide and was focused on expanding in China. The stores account for about 12 percent of Apple's annual $234 billion in sales, Mr. Dawson estimated. Store revenue rose about 39 percent over the last 12 months, according to eMarketer, with Apple stores generating $5,775 a square foot, or more than any other retailer in the world, beating out Tiffany & Company, Coach and Movado.
Ms. Ahrendts was known at Burberry for revitalizing the brand, pushing the fashion house into online retail ahead of other luxury apparel companies and forging alliances with tech companies like Apple, through which she outfitted Burberry's corporate staff with iPads. Mr. Cook hired her in 2013 to make sure that Apple's stores would evolve and expand.
At the time, morale had fallen at Apple's stores, the company's executives have said. Ron Johnson, a former Target executive who became the first head of Apple's retail stores, had departed the company in 2011. After a search, he was replaced by John Browett, who had run the British electronics retailer Dixons. Mr. Browett slashed hours and benefits for Apple Store employees.
Since coming aboard, Ms. Ahrendts has asked for Apple's 60,000 retail employees to air their grievances and send suggestions, and she sends them weekly three-minute video updates to improve communication. She has started a program so employees can move to other stores worldwide. Ms. Ahrendts has also overseen the opening of new Apple stores, including 14 in China and Hong Kong. For customers, she reduced Apple's long lines by creating an online reservation system.
By bringing the Phantom to Apple, Ms. Ahrendts is giving the technology crowd something to love as well. Phantom's parent company, Devialet, is a brand used by tech executives including Tony Fadell, the chief executive of Nest; Andy Rubin, the co-founder of Android; and Marc Benioff, chief executive of Salesforce.com, said Mr. Sannié. He said Mr. Benioff recently introduced Ms. Ahrendts to him and encouraged her to hear the Phantom.
For Devialet, moving the Phantom into Apple's stores is significant. The Paris-based company is known for making amplifiers that can cost as much as $30,000. Until the Apple deal came along, its devices were carried in only a handful of exclusive retailers, including Colette in Paris, Harrods in London and the MoMA store in New York City.
Since the initial meeting with Ms. Ahrendts, the process of getting the Phantom into Apple's stores has been smooth, Mr. Sannié said. He and his team have visited almost all of the 14 stores where the speaker will initially be sold to look at display possibilities.
"We don't have other global distribution other than the Apple store," Mr. Sannié said. "We don't want to be in another chain because millions go to the Apple store looking for excellence, the very best products. This is the best exposure we could want."