Eyebrows raised over Apple’s hiring of Dixons CEO to run Apple Retail Stores

“It would be safe to say that eyebrows were raised at news that Apple is hiring John Browett, the chief executive of British technology retailer Dixons, to head Apple Inc.’s global retail division,” Ben Rooney blogs for The Wall Street Journal. “Presumably Mr. Browett interviews really, really well, and perhaps Apple CEO Tim Cook has yet to visit a PC World or Currys (Dixon’s face of retail in the U.K.), but the two retail experiences are poles apart.”

“Apple stores are the epitome of tasteful design, with no visible cash registers, highly trained staff and an exacting attention to visual appeal; think gleaming white counters, bleached wood floors, minimal and tasteful signage,” Rooney writes. “Currys and PC World are more in the ‘stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap’ end of retail, with all of the associated aesthetic appeal of that school of selling: garish purples, violent yellows, stacks of products, cluttered, aggressive, frenetic.”

Rooney writes, “PC World was slated in a 2009 report as the worst place to buy a computer on the high street, receiving a 42% customer score. The same survey put Apple at the top, with customers rating it at 88%. Although such searches are, of course, self-selecting, a quick search online finds little evidence that much has changed in the last three years.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Perhaps Mr. Browett’s rather interesting Tesco experience counted for something in the eyes of Mr. Cook?

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple hires Dixons CEO John Browett as new retail chief – January 31, 2012
Steve Jobs’ ex-lieutenant Ron Johnson adds $1.5 billion to J.C. Penney in two days – January 30, 2012
J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson: What I learned building the Apple Store – November 21, 2011
New J.C. Penney CEO Johnson hiring former Apple co-workers – November 9, 2011
Why Apple’s retail genius Ron Johnson is paying for the privilege of running J.C. Penney – June 15, 2011
Apple’s retail store chief Johnson off to J.C. Penney; expected to become CEO within months – June 14, 2011


  1. I thought Apple already promoted a guy from within that worked closely with Ron Johnson? Did he not work out? He was from one of the stores in Bay Area or something?

  2. Indeed:

    “Tesco has operated on the internet since 1994 and was the first retailer in the world to offer a robust home shopping service in 1996. Tesco.com was formally launched in 2000. It also has online operations in the Republic of Ireland and South Korea. Grocery sales are available within delivery range of selected stores, goods being hand-picked within each store, in contrast to the warehouse model followed by Ocado. In 2003, tesco.com’s CEO at the time, John Browett, received the Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award for the innovative processes he used to support this online grocery service.”

    Also has deep penetration (yes, move on) in broad variety of markets. Apple already has “nice lighting, great staff, no registers” well defined, but if they’re looking to scale up Retail operations internationally, then they’re probably very interested in his experience w/ that.

    1. Very well written response. It seems that you may have hit the ‘nail on the head’ with your insight. Apple is just starting to initiate the ‘store within a store’ concept and may be the model for the rest of the world’s established markets. The larger centres will likely be Apple owned stores but the Apple experience will need to be tailored for the smaller centres.

  3. Cook is Mr Supply Chain. Dixon’s made Apple portables really accessible selling them through duty-free stores at every UK international airport (I bought three Laptops from Dixon’s). Browett must have demonstrated an outstanding understanfpding of retail supply chain and value add-one’s like warranty insurance. I believe Dixon’s duty free may have been the top seller of Apple laptops before the Regent Street store in London opened. His Tesco experience adds emerging-market supply chain experience. With iPad production migrating in part or completely to Brazil, Browett will bring new things that the retail growth strategy will require. It sounds like an ingenious appointment.

  4. Oh noes!

    I had a couple of mates who worked in Dixons stores back in the day… The stores weren’t interested in selling the products (mostly hifis and TVs) – their aim was to sell as many extended warranties as possible…

    I’ll be expecting to have AppleCare being aggressively rammed down my throat on every single purchase I attempt to make at an Apple Store.

    1. When you are selling a commodity involved in a race to the bottom the only way to make a profit on the sale is to sell an extended warranty. That’s not the case with Apple. That tactic need not be employed.

  5. Everything–BUT EVERYTHING–Apple does in this environment raises eyebrows: from competitors, to analysts, to bloggers, to chat-roomers, to you name it. We ALL know more than Apple how to run its business and, specifically, its HR division, do we not?

    1. True what you say, but you have to agree that Dixons/Curries are shite with awful service and ambiance and Tesco’s no better. Sure Tesco is a powerhouse but no enjoyable retail experience so what does he bring to the party – how to chisel a customer?

        1. Which bring up the question of why the Brits are loathe to use an apostrophe when using the possessive of a name? Here we have Kroger’s, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Lowe’s, yet in the UK it’s Dixons, Currys, Dunns, Scottys, Burtons, Peacocks, Sainsburys, Thorntons, etc etc. Did Parliament ban the apostrophe altogether?

          1. Most brands used to have the apostrophe, but removed it eventually. Waterstons (our B&N) just lost theirs for example. Every time there’s a noisy media storm about our declining grammer standards, but the population don’t give a toss. Still it’s our language, we can spell it how we like I guess …

            1. We could pick out some of the American atrocities and examples of how you butcher the language! 🙂 – I could remind you that it’s English not American !

              Also, Sainsbury’s use the ‘
              Burton – not Burton’s or Burtons
              Dixons has never been Dixon’s – the name came from a telephone directory
              I’ve never heard of Dunns / Dunn’s but google has the bakery using Dunn’s

              Probably because most people especially now with the web don’t type the ‘

  6. Design and retail store operations are two very different beasts. I think it’s safe to say that Browett won’t be designing Apple retail stores, but rather operating the division, looking for efficiencies and other such things. Just because PC World etc. are garish doesn’t mean he would bring the same style to Apple retail stores. Perhaps he was looking to get out of that anyway.

  7. Grim as Currys and PC World have been (and that’s grim, as in grisly) I have noticed an improvement of late. Apple Stores within stores (in the big ones anyway) and a sea-change in staff attitude. From “It’s only old people who buy Macs” to genuine interest and helpfulness. Soooo… maybe (just maybe) this appointment might make a little sense.

  8. Hire a retail chief from a chain with a really crappy reputation. That’s Thinking Different. I know nothing about Dixon’s or Mr. Browett, but I am hoping he is a man with a lot of bright ideas that was not supported properly in his last post. It happens. His talent may have been wasted at Dixon’s.

    1. Only problem with that line of thought is he was the CEO, so if he was not supported properly it was his own fault, and do you really want a lame duck like that in a high ranking position at Apple? No me neither, one of the things Steve was good at was picking people, maybe Tim not so much.

      One other thing the new CEO at jcpenny wants to revamp his stores with boutique stores within a store, maybe Apple stores within every jcpenny?

      1. You could be right, and that’s why I said “I hope”. Wouldn’t be the first time a CEO is stifled by an intransigent Board. JCP could benefit from having an Apple boutique in each of its stores. Might give me a reason to visit one.

  9. I think it’s rather safe to say that there’s more at play here than meets the eye. Nobody moves from relative obscurity and a less than stellar prior performance to the top of the game without some assistance.

    An industry leader simply doesn’t go out and hire a ‘B’ player without cause. Just as Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse doesn’t hire a cook from Applebee’s.

    Perhaps there’s a relationship in play, maybe a connection being made, but on it’s merits, there’s not enough here for this hire to stand on it’s own.

    (I listed several reasons this doesn’t make sense in my post regarding the announcement.)

  10. DSG? The Head of DSG is going to run Apple Stores?

    Oh FFS!!! Get ready for the clueless staff intent on selling you nothing but extended warranties.

    Dixons, Currys and PC World are the epitome of everything that is wrong with British electrical retailing. WTF is Tim Cook thinking?

  11. Other than the pleasant design of Apple stores….I would not really consider them pleasing experiences for the buyer. The store closest to my home….Mission Valley, San Diego…is hell on earth. Absolute chaos. I am pleased they brought back a fixed cash wrap for purchases…but from iPad1 on…all my purchases have been online.

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