updated 08:50 am EST, Tue January 31, 2012
Apple takes UK tech retail veteran as Senior VP
Apple chose early Tuesday to reveal that it had persuaded the CEO of UK retailer Dixons, John Browett, to become its Senior VP for retail. The shift will fill the vacuum left since June, when Ron Johnson left to become the CEO of JC Penney. Apple CEO Tim Cook described the decision to hire the overseer of chains such as Currys and PC World as a reaction to having met Browett and his reputed focus on the customer.
"Our retail stores are all about customer service, and John shares that commitment like no one else we’ve met," Cook said. "We are thrilled to have him join our team and bring his incredible retail experience to Apple."
Browett assumes the new role in April, about 10 months after Johnson left.
The Guardian observed that Dixons' group operations lead Sebastian James would be replacing Browett at the head of the company, while Katie Bickerstaffe would cover a new position as CEO specific to the UK and Ireland.
Reactions to the hire have been mixed. Some experts, such as Conlumino retail analyst Neil Saunders, have pointed to Browett having mostly been positive for Dixons since he became its CEO in 2007. Others have noted that the company lost about a third of its stock value since the start of 2011 and that Dixons, in the impressions of many British residents, has all the negative connotations of service associated with big-box retail chains such as Best Buy.
Browett's experience at Apple may be different, however, since he's unlikely to fundamentally disrupt the model set out by Johnson since Apple retail stores first opened in 2001. His experience may instead be focused around expansion, most of all in international areas where he may be more experienced than American counterparts.
The executive is the first top-level outside hire for Apple in years and the first for Cook, who has been mostly focused on internal organization since taking the reins in August.