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John Browett Reflects on Lessons From Brief Stint as Apple Retail Chief


macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Apple's short-lived head of retail, John Browett, said this week that he had learned "humility" and "become a kinder person" as a result of his six-month stay at Apple.

Browett's appointment had raised eyebrows in his native UK due to his pedigree as the boss of Dixons, a UK consumer electronics chain with a reputation for cost-cutting rather than customer service. Despite CEO Tim Cook describing him as "the best [candidate] by far", Browett departed Apple later that year before finding a new role as CEO of a low-cost UK fashion and accessory retailer.

Apple has yet to name a successor to Browett, with the company's retail team currently reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook.

Browett admitted in an interview at the Retail Week Live conference (via The Independent) this week that he "just didn't fit" with Apple's culture.
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. 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.

Browett said that working for Apple had been one of the best things that had happened to him, and that he had learned a lot about how he is and what he's like to work for.

Article Link: John Browett Reflects on Lessons From Brief Stint as Apple Retail Chief


macrumors 65816
Sep 16, 2007
Rejected for fit rather than competency? Hmm... I start to understand how he managed to get hired in the first place. This man can twist space itself.


macrumors 68020
Jun 20, 2009
Lincoln, UK
Making a profit is more a byproduct of the Apple Store, their main purpose seems to be as a showcase for products that had a small retail presence prior to their arrival.

Dixon group stores are almost the polar opposite to a welcoming experience. It was no surprise that he didn't work out.


macrumors 603
Nov 30, 2004
Toronto, ON
Apple Stores have strayed in the last few years. They used to be a beacon of readily available and innovative customer service and they used to be just as detail oriented as Apple products themselves. This is no longer the case.

An example: Why would there be an underpowered MacBookPro with FinalCutPro X installed on it if it takes over 2 minutes to boot the app and when you're finally in it, everything slows to an unusable crawl? That's such an obvious misstep in retail that should have been caught by an employee, and if not by a manager, and if not by a visit from the Vice-President of Retail. This isn't just in one store, I've noticed it in several. An error like this would not only drive people away from buying FinalCutPro but also a Mac in general.

You can see and feel that nobody is heading Apple retail right now.


macrumors 68020
Jun 20, 2009
Lincoln, UK
Jonny Ive has done all right. Lets try another Brit.

I don't think nationality matters. The problem is Apple did do something unique with their stores, and the only people who really understand how they work are already in Apple retail. I hope they look again at promoting from within.


macrumors 68000
Jul 9, 2010
here and there but not over there
A fact that every UK based Mac Rumors reader knew all along and yet somehow Tim Cook managed to miss. :confused:

Too bad that Apple doesn't take advice from the macrumors forum posters ... On almost every thread there is tons of advice of what Apple should or shouldn't do. Apple could save the failing business when they would listen to all the experts that give here advice for free.
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macrumors 68000
Feb 15, 2011
I actually met him during the Amsterdam store opening. He seemed like a nice guy, but i'm glad he's out.

Like he said: He didn't fit


macrumors regular
Nov 13, 2009
How are people like this able to so easily get high paying jobs?

I think it largely has to deal with speaking ability and sometimes being able to muddle through mid level positions to jump to a company at an exec level where you are then able to just tell others what to do. And once in the Exec club, it's rare for them to fire one of their own.


macrumors 6502a
Dec 24, 2011
I'm still mystified as to how he got the job in the first place.

You may have the degrees, but how you earn them... ? that is why there is a trial period.

In my case, I was hired for a company to resolve production problems, the person that hired me was a manager. Pretty soon I realized the problem was the manager himself.

That manager started to make my life hell. He wanted to make the problem bigger so he could come up with the solution at the end, my job was to prevent those problem to happen in first place. He was a "Superman" manager, I was a preventing manager.

After a lot of bulling from his side, I created a case and spoke to human resources. Now he is exposed and working by himself on one side of the company while I am working on the other side.

My point is that you do not know what drives someone. At least this guy is leaving as a gentleman. At least he didn't ruin the company and hiding himself. Many people get hired and screw things up for years, their talent are giving excuses and blaming others.


macrumors 65816
Aug 16, 2009
New Zealand
Too bad that Apple doesn't take advice from the macrumors forum posters ... On almost every thread there is tons of advice of what Apple should or shouldn't do. Apple could save the failing business when they would listen too all the experts that give here advice for free.

There's a ton of useless whining and pointless snappier safari comments too.


macrumors member
Sep 1, 2010
"Browett's appointment had raised eyebrows in his native UK"
British understatement for cr****d myself..the horror, the horror! Hara kiri the only honourable option now surely.
Apple why not consult macrumours in future, we have our finger on the pulse.


macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2011
Los Angeles, CA
From Apple Employees that I know.... This guy was a d i c k ( no pun intended ) and he nearly single handedly destroyed the companies retail and customer service reputation.. I cite his "words" humbled etc...

Do I think Cook and company misstepped? Yes - but - but - this all came down at the same time as Steve's demise -- and seriously these guys are human -- they ( the original Apple team ) took some missteps (let's not go over them again) but Cook has steered this behemoth through some pretty ruff waters so cut him a break guys -- with Ive now fully in I'm confident they will get their mojo back..

E-specially after that WTH Samsung G4 "event". I mean... Serious... Forget the device -- the show itself was a fricking j o k e.


macrumors member
Apr 8, 2009
No idea what he did in the UK, but it was quite obvious that he came from a completely different corporate culture. Still, since Apple-trashing is quite en vogue right now, I think he at least deserves some credit for not being backstabbing and all sour grapes. A lot of journalists would have liked to report that.

Nevertheless, Apple should definitely look into adjusting their shops a little bit to "local habits". I knew quite a few people that now prefer to go to local authorized resellers, even if the Apple Store is closer, as some of the US retail habits are perceived as fake and annoying in quite a few parts of Europe (and Apple seems to aggressively reject any such suggestions coming from the own retail staff).

And they really have to look into some mean to address the overcrowding and noise levels. I have two Apple Stores within a ten minute driving range, and it is positively impossible to get any buying support in either of them, no matter what time of the day, and after 10 minutes in the shop your ears are bleeding, the air quality is terrible etc. Even the Genius Bars are so busy (and the scheduled timings too short), that they send people away without solving their problems and never keep the appointment times.

I know, that is a luxury problem to have, but it does not reflect well.
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