Apple Retail Store chief Browett: ‘We messed up’ with Dixons-eque staffing gamble; refutes layoffs

“Apple Inc.’s retail boss told employees that the company made mistakes with its staffing levels, leading to news reports that the company was cutting employees, according to two people familiar with the matter,” Ian Sherr reports for Dow Jones.

“In a communication with store leadership teams, senior vice president of retail, John Browett, who took the reins of Apple’s retail stores in April, said that the company had been trying a new staffing formula for its retail stores, leading some employees to see their hourly shifts cut and retail locations to be understaffed,” Sherr reports. “This happened for a few weeks before the company decided to revert to its older system, hoping to rectify the problem.”

Sherr reports, “He instructed leadership teams to tell employees, “We messed up,” according to two people who were aware of the communication, which also stressed that while shift schedules were affected, no one was laid off. He also wanted employees to know that it was hiring new staff, these people said. Apple acknowledged the retail staffing changes. ‘Making these changes was a mistake and the changes are being reversed,’ said Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman. ‘Our employees are our most important asset and the ones who provide the world-class service our customers deserve.'”

Read more in the full article here.

Gary Allen reports for ifoAppleStore, “A series of recent administrative moves to reduce the number of Apple retail store employees is being attributed to Sr. VP Retail John Browett, who is hoping to increase the chain’s contribution to company profit. The staff reductions seem to be in direct contradiction to an increasing number of visitors to the stores, and the need to maintain Apple’s global reputation for excellent customer service. According to those with close ties to the retail stores, Browett feels the stores are ‘too bloated’ with employees, and he is willing to gamble the stores’ legendary customer experience to gain back a few points of profit margin.”

“Browett’s decision reportedly came despite strongly-worded advice from Retail segment veterans that reducing personnel ahead of the annual Back-to-School promotion and the September introduction of the iPhone 5 could create a customer service catastrophe,” Allen reports. “Browett disagreed with his staff, and said the chain needs to learn to run ‘leaner’ in all areas, even if the customer experience is compromised.”

Allen reports, “Other related rumors say Apple is quietly dropping the free workshops that retail stores have offered since Day 1, and that staffers are instead pointing customers to the $99 One to One training service. Management is also pushing employees to sell more iPhones with carrier contracts, hoping to increase revenues.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Bozo Alert, Mr. Cook! You might want to keep a closer eye on the new guy with the shitastic Dixons “ideas,” okay?

In fact, you might want to require final approval on any changes he dreams up unless or until he finally gets it, if he ever does. If he doesn’t grasp the Apple way within the next, oh, say, thirty days, CUT HIM LOOSE. iPhone 5 launch will be here before you know it.

This is precisely the kind of stupid shit we worry about seeping into the post-Steve Apple. This was Tim Cook’s first big hire. Not looking good, Tim. This is not delighting customers. Shareholders should be concerned.

In fact, Apple shareholders might want to email CEO Tim Cook and ask him if this is true and, if so, what exactly he’s doing about it: tcook@apple.com

Note to John Browett: Watch it, buddy. You’re not in Dixons anymore. We have zero qualms with dedicating our lives to making yours miserable until you’re out of Apple Inc. and at Microsoft Retail where you belong. If it ain’t broke, don’t “fix” it, capice?

Related articles:
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

70 Comments

  1. Reducing the number of employees, and hurting customer service, is a really bad idea. The Apple stores around me are always packed and I occasionally have to wait a couple of minutes for help (when I need it) but to squeeze a few extra points of profit at the expense of the customer experience is a Microsoftian idea.

    1. A few points:

      1. Like all business segments at Apple, retail is pushed extremely hard to deliver numbers. On many occasions, payroll is tightened in order to deliver a number to Oppenheimer.

      2. I think we all wondered exactly what Browett would bring to the table. While we can assume he has likely made some good decisions, he dropped the ball in this case. At least he manned up and owned it.

      3. We all make mistakes. The key is to learn from them. I would assume Cook will have him on a shorter leash moving forward before giving him more slack in the future.

      1. I agree with points 1&3. However he didn’t come to Wal-Mart,Sears,K-Mart or even Target. He came to Apple. There is no excuse for this type of mistake. None. Everyone wondered what he brought to the company, well now we know. Supposedly Apple recruited him over everyone else on the planet. Bad choice. Everyone makes mistakes. Apple made a huge mistake with him. And I’m not unfamiliar with the world of retail either. But everyone,even non fanboys, can see what a mistake this was. Geez! It’s obvious to a 4th grader that you don’t do this in such a drastic manner and at such a critical time of the year and product rollout! Damn Apple how could you do this? The “janitor” that Jobs referenced would have never let this guy screw things up like this. It’s a bad sign. Steve would have beat this guys ears off for even suggesting such a plan! Cost control is one thing. Doing things to such a perfectly tuned company such as Apple is another. This will generate bad feelings in the staff and bad PR for the company. Google and Samsung together couldn’t have come up with something to hurt Apple this badly. Damn this pisses me off! What a dumbshit! Send his sorry ass back across the pond. It’s embarrassing.

        1. Bullshit. There was no mistake. They hired him deliberately to do exactly this. He was put in place with direct instructions to do what he did. He was just the hired gun, and some-one expendable if it all went pear-shaped.
          Well, it did go all pear-shape. But the one who should be fired is the person who hired him and set the agenda. Fire Browett, and you still have the same upper management in place with the same contempt for their staff and customers. Their first, current, and only consideration is margin, and they will slice and dice it any way they think they can get away with it.

          1. You are absolutely correct. If you look again I do blame Apple. But I should have been more specific. As you state it’s someone above Browett that ok’d this move. Browett may have hatched the plan but it was approved. They should all go. Whoever is involved here should go. But Browett is the guy who has his name on it so he goes because either he planned this or was too much of a pussy to stand up and say “hell no”! Apple is in business to make money. That’s great, I own the stock (actually options) so I’m happy with most decisions. This one is beyond stupid. A lot of harm done here.

  2. Wow, what a fscking moron. He’s a highly paid apple VP??? Are you kidding me? Since when was Apples company mantra “sacrifice customer experience to drive up margins”.

    1. The last time Scully was in charge. Browett sounds like he would have gotten along great with Scully.

      Next thing you know, Browett is going to start opening Apple retail stores in barren strip malls and desolate car-choked landscapes. This is definitely not a guy who could have created the Grand Central store, or the Fifth Avenue store. He doesn’t think that way. He might be the right fit for some horrible place everyone hates to go to like Best Buy, but not for the Apple store.

    1. Nothing Apple does is for the purpose of making money. But when you focus on doing something as close to perfectly as possible, and then offer it for sale, you will make more money than the guys with dollar signs in their eyes.

      And that is what the rest of the world doesn’t get, make an “insanely great” product and folks won’t care that you charge WAY more than anybody else, and they’ll fall over themselves to buy it.

      That being said, you can find me camping in line until September 12th.

    1. So crazy. Not exactly the time to be worrying about the cost side of the ledger. Keep your eyes on the revenue. Support the revenue growth. Support the new product launch. Build baby, build.

    2. Exactly. Add to that the most profitable per-square-foot store, and he’s trying to squeeze a nickel till it yelps?

      You’d think that with those kind of profit margins, he be arguing to install a coffee shop/lounge area/internet cafe.

      Think about it–spend an afternoon with the Apple Genius Barista.

  3. MDN…how about lauching a campaign to get rid of this turkey. Dixons is the polar opposite of an Apple Store experience. Understaffed with people who have no product knowledge and there to sell junk.

    1. Yes. Absofuckinglutely! Let’s get it started today. If MDN won’t get it going maybe AppleInsider or Mac Rumor will? Someone needs to get a movement going immediately. OK fanboys, here’s your chance. Let’s see something. Now!

    1. I worry that Tim Cook is a bit too fey to deal with this the way it needs to be dealt with.

      Steve would have lopped off this jackass Browett’s head already.

      1. I can’t imagine Steve hiring this guy in the first place to be honest. I remember how Tim Cook said how everyone should calm down and that he was convinced that J. Browett was the absolute best man for the job. I’m struggling to comprehend how that might have been after this piece of news… just wow.

        Don’t make me lose my faith in you, Tim!

        -worried Apple supporter

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