Former Apple retail chief Browett says he was ousted because he ‘didn’t fit in’

Being selected to the position of overseeing Apple’s retail store operations would be a dream job for many.

The hugely successful concept that is the chain of Apple Stores is something to behold, no matter what you might think of the company. Ron Johnson, formerly of Target and its sister store Mervyn’s, was credited with creating the look and feel of Apple’s retail locations–everything from the minimalist decor to the Genius Bar was his invention.

It’s telling that other tech retailers–like Microsoft–are copying the general look and feel for their own stores. Apple was at first criticized for its design scheme…now the volume of those stores makes up a large portion of Apple’s earnings each quarter.

After almost twelve years Johnson moved to head JCPenney’s retail operations. The chain had lost its identity amongst the Targets and Walmarts of the retail world, and was hoping to attract younger shoppers to its stores.

So, presumably, the hard work of running Apple’s stores was already done. Just keep steering the freakin’ ship and maintain course, and things should run themselves…after all, the model has basically been in place since 2001.

That’s what everyone thought new retail chief John Browett would do. Instead, he was soon laying off staff and cutting store hours. While that might be how it’s done in other retail chains, that didn’t sit well with Apple’s staff, customers or upper management. Soon, Browett was gone. Now, six months later, we are finally learning why.

ArsTechnica has that story…here’s an excerpt:

Former Dixons Retail CEO John Browett, who enjoyed his position at the top of Apple retail for less than a year, has come forward to discuss some of the reasons why he didn’t end up staying at Apple for longer. In an interview during this week’s Retail Week Live conference, Browett said he was ousted from Apple not because of incompetence, but because he “just didn’t fit” with Apple’s culture.

Apple had hired Browett in early 2012 to replace Apple retail brainchild Ron Johnson left to become CEO of JC Penney. The immediate reaction from the public wasn’t exactly a positive one—Dixons’ UK retail stores were known for being cheap, messy, and staffed with clueless salespeople. That was the polar opposite of the image Johnson had curated for Apple’s own retail presence, leaving customers and employees alike confused about where Apple was hoping to take its stores.

But in October of 2012, Apple announced Browett was out after a series of Apple retail stumbles. Now, Browett is reflecting publicly on what happened, attributing the situation to a bad fit rather than his ability to do his job.

“Apple is a truly fantastic business. The people are great, they’ve got great products, it’s got a great culture and I loved working there, it’s a fantastic business,” he said. “The issue there was that I just didn’t fit within the way they run the business. It was one of those things where you’re rejected for fit rather than competency.”

Despite his incompatibility with Apple’s culture, Browett described the post as “probably the best thing that’s ever happened” to him.

This article has a video of his interview.


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