Apple shake up sends former Dixons boss to the door
Apple has parted company with its head of retail – former Dixons boss John Browett – after only a few turbulent months with the company.
The appointment was met with shock when it was announced back in January, and no shortage of scepticism when Apple said the appointment was based on Browett’s “customer service” record at the now struggling Dixons retail chain.
In a major shake-up of Apple senior staff, Browett appears to have paid the price for what has been seen as a botched attempt to change staffing procedures in Apple Stores – a move which the company reversed during implementation.
In its statement on the changes, Apple didn’t say whether Browett jumped or was pushed, but given the short time he was in charge of the company’s stores, and the significant increase in earnings compared to his last post, commentators suggest the departure was not voluntary.
Apple’s Retail organisation has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level
“John Browett is leaving Apple,” the company said. “A search for a new head of Retail is under way and in the interim, the Retail team will report directly to Tim Cook. Apple’s Retail organisation has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level who will continue the excellent work that has been done over the past decade to revolutionise retailing.”
The main reason behind the early departure appears to be that Browett angered colleagues by cutting staff numbers and hours in stores.
According to a Dow Jones report back in August, Apple had to backtrack and tell stores that it had made a mistake by cutting worker hours, and had to refute rumours that it would be laying off staff.
It’s not clear from the Apple statement whether Browett had worked long enough to qualify for the £36 million he expected to receive as part of a “golden hello”. The share give-away was based over five years and dependent on the former Dixons man reaching certain milestones.
Browett was by no means the only high-profile exit, with iOS chief Scott Forstall also removed from his main role and being given a job as assistant to Tim Cook until he formally leaves next year.
According to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal, the executive, who had close links with former boss Steve Jobs, had riled several senior colleagues, but eventually paid the price for refusing to sign off an apology over the recent Maps debacle.
Forstall believed the company could avoid an apology, but his stance was overruled.
The Retail section will be left to run itself until a replacement is found, while the company also announced that Sir Jonathan Ive will “provide leadership and direction for Human Interface across the company in addition to his role as the leader of industrial design”.