A few weeks ago, we reported that Apple’s Senior VP of Retail John Browett had attempted to “gut retail operations” over the past several months, a move involving employee layoffs and less hours for part-time employees that Apple has since admitted was a mistake.
“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.”
A new report from ifoAppleStore explains that Apple’s change in retail philosophy can be attributed to the passing of Steve Jobs and subsequent resignation of Apple’s former retail chief Ron Johnson. Both Jobs and Johnson believed that profits and revenues should be secondary to customer experience at Apple retail store locations, but that vision has since disappeared as Apple CEO Tim Cook and John Browett focus chiefly on making profits even if it compromises the customer experience.
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. Cook was apparently attracted by Browett’s like-minded focus on the more traditional concepts of retailing—logic and process leading to revenues and profits.
If these reports are in fact valid, it is highly disappointing that Apple appears to have broken away from the retail philosophy it practiced for the past ten years. Apple’s goal was to reinvent retail, which it has been largely successful at doing, but now is not a time to break away from that vision and let traditional retail methods ruin the Apple Store environment.