Apple newbie John Browett brings Dixons to Apple Retail Stores

On Thursday, “Apple Retail chief John Browett emailed Apple Retail Store leadership with a mea culpa,” Jim Tanous writes for The Mac Observer. “From the Dow Jones Newswire: ‘In a communication with store leadership teams, senior vice president of retail, John Browett… 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. 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 [Apple Retail] was hiring new staff, these people said.'”

MacDailyNews Take: There is no “we” about it. You messed up, Dixons-Boy. You. Own it or you’ll get no respect, ever.

Apple Retail Stores are the public face of Apple. Apple Retail Stores are responsible in large part for Apple’s success, perhaps even more than even Tim Cook realizes – or he would have made damn sure that a person who fully understood how Steve Jobs’ Apple works was hired to replace Ron Johnson. Cook should have hired Johnson’s replacement from within Apple Retail. Major mistake.

Apple Senior VP Retail: John Browett
Apple Senior VP Retail: John Browett
“A report from ifoAppleStore claims that it was no staffing formula that caused the commotion; it was Mr. Browett’s own plans put into motion,” Tanous writes. “According to ifoAppleStore’s sources, Mr. Browett sent the following orders to many of Apple’s Retail Stores:”

• Cease all recruiting and hiring events
• Make no promotions
• Immediately lay off newly-hired employees who are still on probation
• Reduce available hours for part-time employees
• Reduce or eliminate available overtime
• Lay off or fire employees who can only work more than 32 hours a week and not part-time

Tanous writes, “Apple Retail jobs are stressful, demanding, and require significant technical knowledge in addition to a whole lot of compassion, understanding, and a willingness to take vicious abuse. The kind of people who meet these criteria simply don’t come cheap and Apple needs to divert more money and resources, not less, to this critical group of employees… Mr. Browett needs to wake up and get his act together: he’s not at Dixons anymore.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Tim Cook’s biggest hire to date. It makes us worry. Cook needs to own his mistake, too.

This isn’t about minor “mistakes.” This is about an outside virus that threatens to irrevocably damage Apple’s DNA; invited in by Cook to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, no less.

Browett’s type of “thinking” will kill Apple faster than 10 lines of beige Performas.

If Cook can’t see that clearly, he needs to go, too.

Concerned Apple shareholders might want to email CEO Tim Cook directly and ask him what exactly he’s doing to fix this Browett problem: tcook@apple.com

MacDailyNews Note: 9:30am EDT: We have just put up a new poll in the left-hand column of the main website: “Should Apple CEO Tim Cook fire Sr. VP of Retail John Browett?”

Related articles:
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

105 Comments

  1. Bravo MDN! Tim Cook is NOT the guy to carry on the Jobs culture in the post-Jobs era. Never was and never will be. You are absolutely right in saying the retail stores are the face of Apple. As more and more reports come in of grouchy geniuses, clerks without training, and erosion of the mystique the company becomes Best Buy. In other words, an average purveyor of mobile devices.

    1. Ever since the passing of Steve Jobs, we have been waiting for the shoes to drop. This is the latest of a series of signs of men doing it their own way instead of passing the torch and carrying the banner.

      All I can say is, Tim Cook’s vague promise to bring out an amazing new Mac Pro in 2013 had better be on the level, or else…or else I’ll just have to stamp my foot…there’s little any of us can do against monumental market forces pressing against faltering leadership…

    2. Absolutely MDN. Way to go! You lead the way and we’ll follow! Let’s get this guy out of there before he ruins Apple! He needs to go now! Every day that he’s there Apple loses credibility! Apple is going to try to brush this aside. Put it on the back burner. Sweep it under the rug. We can’t let them do that. He needs to go now!

    3. Now you guys are finally getting it. Cook is no Steve Jobs. He’s a numbers management god, supply chain guru, but as far as leading Apple, Cookiewuss’s bad imitation of Steve Jobs on stage doesn’t do the trick. The magic is fizzling away. This is what I mean when I say the company is getting that “Old man smell.”

      The perception that many Apple dissenters have is that all Apple cares about now is money.

      I sense that Apple is beginning to care too much what share holders think. Steve didn’t care. He knew he was making money for them hand over fist but his target wasn’t the money it was the products.

      No one is there now saying this product is crap, not the way Steve did.

      We’ve read how engineers have been pushed aside by middle management types, and I think it’s starting to show. I can only imagine the sycophantic power struggles that must be going on inside that company.

      “Sheryl the new MBA from marketing has some ideas for new commercials Mr. Cook. What do you think? Oh and Mr. Bowett is here for his 1:00 on increasing retail profitability.”

      1. The problem with insisting that Cook isn’t fit run Apple is that he did, very successfully, during Steve’s multiple medical leaves.

        Right now there’s no evidence to suggest this wasn’t just an isolated screw-up like any of Jobs’ isolated screw-ups.

        Also worth mentioning is that you’ve been crucifying Tim Cook since the moment it was announced he’d be the new CEO so you might be, let’s say, somewhat biased.

    4. Wait just a minute pete Peterson, WHile I agree with MDN that Browett looks like the “wrong” person for the job and a really poor hiring decision (and assuredly needs to be “talked to” or jettisoned…quickly) You can’t extend that and say that Cook is not right for the job. He has effectively been running Apple for years. And you simply can’t dismiss someone out of hand for making a single wrong decision (after years of making correct ones)
      Steve was not perfect either, he mad many bad hire’s (and even bad internal promotions. (where you REALLY should know better))

    5. The MDM poll has the wrong choices shown. Should be, fire Cook, fire Browett, or fire both.

      Browett’s Orders have irreparably tarnished Apple. We now have a rotten Apple to deal with.

    6. Reading the Steve Jobs Biography shows how much effort went into the stores. They had a “lab store” and tested everything and last minute changed it all. For a Dixons looser to come in and ruin it all………

  2. Already emailed him, mentioned how cheap the new packaging for the MBA’s is as well.

    One more reason to worry about the fate of Apple in the long term. Like with Sports teams, some coaches are genius but push the teams too hard, they hire a “different” kind of coach for a while and eventual get back to the guys who push too hard. At Apple, we had Steve, who just knew how to manipulate people to get the most out of them… Maybe, they should ask, “What would Steve do?”, just a bit more.

    The Dixons guy concerned me, day one.

    Apple MUST do better.

    1. Noticed this in the batch of MacBook Pros we got at the office. The insert placed between the keyboard and display feels like cheap tissue paper. Almost better to have nothing at all. The previous type was much nicer. Also not crazy about the new coating they are putting on the power adapter extension cable. It’s not nearly as soft and pliable as the older ones.

  3. Its tough to have people walking around in stores asking “do you need anything” and not something about it. The 3 guys at the door should be communicating with a lounge section that sends out well rested storefront maclovers to help out the large and diverse crowd, it just looks overcrowded with employees at non-rush hours, apparently the vp of sales just wants to not have overcrowded back of the stores and letting them out on the mall would bring hives of people towards the on-a-break employees and would cause too much of a distraction… Apple must only be sure to have more space in their stores or back of the stores so that employees can have a place to rest or not be seen too much together when crowds come in, they give the impression that theyre slacking or not being receptive with customers, which bring either bad customer experience to the surveys or bad conduct reports to store management… Lets just take it easy and let the iphone craze pass, you dont want personnel shortage now and you cant train new employees fast enough for ios 6…. Everybody just go back to your Jobs!!!!

  4. If this is true, Browette is being paid a lot more to undermine Apple than Apple is paying him.could it be a Samsung, Google, or Microsoft perhaps? Or is it Eric T. Mole once again with his clandestine countermeasures, working alone?

  5. Don’t over-react. The truth is that Apple will be much stronger if execs learn from their mistakes rather than constantly hiring execs that repeat mistakes. If they learned their lesson, then Apple is better off for it. If not, they should go.

    But at least give them a chance to learn…

    1. 100% right take… Every clown on this forum including MDN is acting like they never made a mistake at work…, but unlike Browette, they most likely didn’t own up to as he did.

      Even Jobs made mistakes… That’s how you learn and improve…the iPad came from the same company as the Newton…,

      1. The mistake was to hire this clown. He ran a retail outlet known for poor customer experiences, and he’s doing his best to duplicate that at the Apple store. No one is over reacting, this guy is a disaster. Needs to go.

        I’m worried if Tim Cook is the right man for the job now.

      2. “100% right take… Every clown on this forum including MDN is acting like they never made a mistake at work…, ”
        Except – ‘every clown here’ isn’t being paid $Millions. At that pay grade you are expected to do your job right. The poor schmuck on minimum wage can get a second chance – and if you don’t like them rules then get out of the kitchen.

        “but unlike Browette, they most likely didn’t own up to as he did.”
        Speak for yourself. (tosser)

      3. I want my Newton! I also want this clown fired. He’s at the top of the food chain. You don’t make mistakes this horrific in a position like his. When you do your ass is out the door mucho pronto. It doesn’t take a mental giant to see that this was an ill-conceived plan from the beginning. This isn’t just some “honest mistake”. And he didn’t make this decision on his own. He had to have support from the higher ups. So whoever nodded yes at the conference table should be escorted out by security immediately. And he didn’t own up to anything. He simply had to admit that he fucked up after people started pointing fingers. This is not just a small mistake. It had to be painfully obvious to everyone involved what the ramifications from this would be. Yet they went ahead with it anyway. Fire them all. And I don’t need to hear anymore about Steve Jobs this and Steve Jobs that. This has nothing to do with Steve Jobs. A competent CEO would never let this happen. It does not take Steve Jobs to say “hell no that’s a stupid fucking idea what are you trying to do ruin this company”?

      4. Based on the decisions he made regarding employees, he isn’t a very nice human being. Apple is supposedly in the business to make great products – why hire a Dixons clown with right -wing uber-fascist ideas?

      5. We all make mistakes. But most of us pay for them. And pay dearly for costly ones. And sure as fuck, don’t take millions in compensation.

        At the VP level, screwups must be fireable. Immediately.

        And no, he didn’t own up to anything with: “We made a mistake”. If he sent the email and he took the decision, I don’t see why “the collective” should own up to the mistake.

    2. It’s one thing to commit a major error by skipping some procedures, negligence, or there just isn’t enough data available yet for a new-ish system (early space program and even the space shuttle disasters come to mind).

      In this case the guy was brought in from outside and tried actively imposing a system known to be extremely bad for customer service, in what seems to be an empire-building effort on his part.

      I’m all for giving those in the first group a second chance. Those in the second… not as much. Especially a guy who penny-pinches the lowest end of the payscale right after being paid $56 million (stocks spread over 5 years) just for getting hired.

    3. No. MacDailyNews is entirely correct:

      Browett’s type of “thinking” will kill Apple faster than 10 lines of beige Performas.

      It’d be difficult for Apple to make a bigger mistake at this point.

      COOK: DO NOT SCREW WITH THE CUSTOMER’S EXPERIENCE.

      Be more careful about who you hire in the future.

      (Brought to you by Carl’s Jr.)

    4. Sorry macman1984,
      Not if he is getting paid “tens of millions of dollars” to make such a huge mistake.

      He didn’t make this decision to screw with Apple and thousands of its employees in a vacuum, he did so after ignoring the pleas of everyone he worked with.

      If he’s still on probation, fire him!!!

    1. +1

      But to be clear, I really get tired of MDN’s constant effort to find fault with Tim Cook. Since he took over Apple a year ago, Apple’s market value has ONLY gone up 70%+. MDN is delusional if it thinks anybody associated with it – including the vaunted “Steve Jack” – has the business skills to produce that kind of performance.

      1. Steve Jobs’ massive momentum. Apple’s market value grew much more than a mere 70% under Jobs. Until we see something insanely great created under Tim Cook’s leadership, with no prior input from Jobs, the jury remains out on Cook as CEO. Is Cook a visionary CEO or a mere caretaker? We’ll know soon enough.

        1. Tim Cook was the second most talented executive in the world when SJ was around, and that’s why Steve hired him and chose him to run the company when SJ couldn’t do it anymore.

          1. To *run* the company. And direct it to some degree, but by most accounts Steve Jobs still had final say on all major product and strategic decisions.

            Which is not to say Jobs didn’t let a few stinkers pass either (Ping, for example), but something *this* essential to the Apple experience would not have been allowed.

  6. This strategy is insane considering we’re about to head into the back to school season, the new iPhone launch, new iPod launch, holiday season and perhaps an iPad Mini launch.

    For those outside the UK who have never experienced what shopping at PC World or Currys was like, it’s hard to think of a worse retail experience, truly dire.

    Treat customers right and you’ve got them for life, piss them off and you’ve lost them forever.

  7. Just looked up background work on John Browett. Its not really that impressive, and with the hardly any background experience with Apple besides maybe owning product or selling the iPad exclusively for his Dixon company. I don’t want to too quickly judge this guy…but i wouldn’t give him a whole lot of leniency either.

  8. MDN, over react much? Apple does many things right, but not all of them. On Jobs’ recent watch there was Ping, MobileMe, iWork, and other hot messes. The retail snafu is a big deal if you work in a retail store, but if you are a consumer, you didn’t notice or think twice about it – “they must have been really busy that day”

    You know Robinson tried something new with price and promotuon at JCP after leavin Apple and they had major heartburn from it. This is just a news story to get burried with all the trial news.

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