“Despite a public acknowledgement by Apple that recent retail store staffing changes were ‘a mistake’ and have been reversed, store employees still haven’t received an official explanation of the changes, and signs persist of a continuing focus on revenues and profit instead of customer satisfaction,” Gary Allen reports for ifoAppleStore. “Sources say employee performance standards have changed to emphasize the employee sales functions, more small products will be stocked at the stores, and that several budget categories have been slashed, including for store maintenance. All the while, morale continues to drift lower among many retail store employees.”

Apple Senior VP Retail: John Browett“Last month Sr. VP Retail John Browett made several staffing changes that included laying off probationary employees, reducing hours and limiting overtime. However, after the changes became public and generated sharp criticism from employees and Apple aficionados, The Wall Street Journal reported that Browett reversed the changes and instructed leadership teams to tell employees, ‘We messed up,'” Allen reports. “He also told his team to stress that no one had been laid off, and that new hires were being made. But despite Browett’s denial, all the sources to IFO were unanimous that employees had indeed been laid off, fired, assigned no hours or otherwise made unemployed by Apple. The sources also say they’ve not heard one word from Browett about the incident, not even an acknowledgement of Apple’s public statement.”

Allen reports, “In 2009, Jobs took six months of medical leave and put Tim Cook in charge of the company, including the retail stores. Cook is primarily an ‘operations guy,’ sources explain, and his natural focus is revenues and profits, not customers. While Jobs was away, Cook and chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer began to confront Johnson on his customer-centric retail philosophy—both felt the stores didn’t generate enough revenues to justify operating expenses. According to accounts, Cook pushed Johnson ‘quite hard’ about how other channels were selling more Mac’s per-capita than the retail stores. Without Jobs’ support, Johnson found it was nearly impossible to keep Cook and Oppenheimer from switching the chain’s primary purpose from a superior experience to revenues. Last year when Cook became the permanent CEO, he hired Browett from UK-based Dixons to head the retail chain. ”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Sounds like Johnson had a good idea of what was coming, which likely contributed to his leaving Apple four months prior to Jobs’ death. Why watch your greatest achievement, the engine that drives much of Apple’s success, be filled with cheap gas and run without maintenance until it seizes?

Make no mistake, if these reports are true, this sort of misguided “thinking,” from Tim Cook on down, will kill the golden goose. (See this related article, also from today: NPD: Nearly 60% of Apple product owners more likely to purchase another Apple device after positive Genius Bar experience.)

Apple shareholders should be very concerned. We suggest that concerned shareholders email CEO Tim Cook directly and ask him what exactly is going on with Apple Retail: tcook@apple.com

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

Related articles:
NPD: Nearly 60% of Apple product owners more likely to purchase another Apple device after positive Genius Bar experience – August 28, 2012
After being Browettized, Apple Retail touts numbers – August 20, 2012
Apple newbie John Browett brings Dixons to Apple Retail Stores – August 17, 2012
Dear Tim Cook: Apple’s retail focus should be on delighting customers, not generating cash – August 16, 2012
Apple Retail Store chief Browett: ‘We messed up’ with Dixons-eque staffing gamble; refutes layoffs – August 16, 2012
Apple retail chief Browett to get $56 million golden hello – May 27, 2012
Apple grants 100,000 shares to new retail head John Browett – April 25, 2012
Tim Cook emails UK customer: John Browett’s role isn’t to bring Dixons to Apple Retail – February 1, 2012
Eyebrows raised over Apple’s hiring of Dixons CEO to run Apple Retail Stores – January 31, 2012
Apple hires Dixons CEO John Browett as new retail chief – January 31, 2012

Apple Inc.: The most profitable retailer in America – August 15, 2012
Apple’s retail juggernaut is magical and revolutionary in its own right – May 25, 2011
Apple Retail Stores hit 10th anniversary (with video of Steve Jobs’ tour of 1st store) – May 18, 2011
Apple Store: ‘The best damn retail experience in America!’ – December 2, 2010
Apple’s retail stores generate huge sales – December 27, 2007
Piper Jaffray finds ‘gravitational pull’ at Apple Retail Stores – November 26, 2007
Apple thinks different with cash register-less retail stores that bring in billions – November 23, 2007
Apple makes retail seem ridiculously easy – May 29, 2007
How Apple’s Steve Jobs is revolutionizing Manhattan retail – May 08, 2007
Fortune: Apple Inc. is America’s best retailer – March 08, 2007
How Apple Retail Stores beat Best Buy, Neiman Marcus, and Tiffany – December 19, 2006