24th Feb 2012

John Browett - Apple's new VP of Retail

Last year Apple beat the oil giant Exxon Mobil to become the most valuable company in the world, and as of yesterday its market capitalisation reached $479.42 billion. The next step for the electronics giant is rapid retail expansion in Europe and China, with plans to open 30 new stores outside the US. This being the case it seems fitting that Apple has looked beyond US borders for its new vice-president of retail. The company has appointed an Englishman, John Browett, to head its international network of stores.

Heading up the chain, which currently comprises 361 stores worldwide, may be the perfect project for the unconventional Browett, who said he wouldn’t have wanted any other job. Like the late Steve Jobs, Browett doesn’t wear a suit or tie, and is said to hate typical boardroom business culture.

Apple head-hunted Browett from troubled highstreet retail outlet Dixons, where he has presided over a painful but largely successful turnaround since becoming CEO in 2007. Chief among his achievements was an overhaul of Dixons’ reputation for bad customer service, and he shepherded the company from the brink of bankruptcy to the point where analysts are now cautiously optimistic about its future prospects.

This sort of background experience in retail trench-war is no doubt seen as something that will stand Browett in good stead when he takes on the very different job of making Apple’s powerful retail model accessible to large numbers of consumers who will be setting foot in an Apple store for the first time.

Browett is due to start his new job at Apple’s Infinite Loop in Cupertino California in April. His hiring is itself a result of the reshuffle brought about by the arrival of the new CEO Tim Cook, to whom he will be reporting directly as senior VP of retail. During Browett’s first 100 days, he too will have to assess and possibly reshuffle his inherited team. At First100 we recommend doing the reshuffle, and hiring, as early as possible, if it looks like it’s going to need to be done at all.

Accelerating performance is about conceiving, planning and executing a unified set of strategies from the beginning, in order to set up a situation which will facilitate early and lasting success.

Hilda Goold

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