updated 06:30 pm EDT, Tue August 2, 2011
Apple gets recruiter for Ron Johnson replacement
Apple is going beyond its usual borders to hire a replacement for outgoing retail VP Ron Johnson, contacts said late Tuesday. Headhunter firm Egon Zehnder is being tapped not just to look for someone from outside Apple but to go outside of the US. A WSJ source understood Apple CEO Steve Jobs wanted to be open to foreign hires.
The plan may be a recognition of the mounting importance of international sales to Apple's once US-focused strategy. During its most recent fiscal results call, the company noted that its revenue in China had grown sixfold in the past year and hit $8.8 billion dollars in the first nine months of the fiscal year, putting great significance on capturing a market where just four official Apple stores exist. Many of Apple's store openings in the past few years have been outside the US, including the four stores that opened in the spring.
Johnson has created a difficult challenge for any replacement because of his success. Having come from Target, he came to Apple at a time when Gateway was failing and leading many analysts to believe computer builders could never run their own stores. Apple is now famous for its stores, and much of its success from 2003 on is credited to having locations where shoppers could try iPods, Macs, iPhones, and iPads in ideal conditions, without the broken demo units, poorly trained staff, and commission-based sales that drag down competitors at big-box retail chains.
Apple currently has 327 stores and has been enough of a model to lead to Microsoft copying the strategy in hopes that it can get the cachet and glitch-free conditions that define Apple retail.