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Apple Stores Reportedly Shifting Focus Amid Budget Cuts

John BrowettAccording to sources, Apple retail stores are changing “employee performance standards,” affecting the customer experience and employee morale. Apparently, despite Apple’s recent assertions to the contrary, stories of layoffs and budget cuts persist. Will the superior shopping experience we’ve come to expect go away?

The story comes courtesy of ifoAppleStore, a blog devoted to news surrounding Apple’s retail locations. The same site drew attention last month, when it reported on layoffs and the reduction of employee hours. Apple’s senior vice-president of retail, John Browett, responded to the issue through Wall Street Journal, saying the company had “messed up.”

According to ifoAppleStore’s sources, the affected employees have been reinstated, but Apple continues to move towards a more revenue-focused approach in retail.

Apple’s change in retail philosophy apparently traces back to CEO Tim Cook. When Steve Jobs was forced to take medical leave in 2009, Cook stepped in for the interim. Cook was allegedly tough on then retail chief Ron Johnson, calling into question the customer-focused setup and a general sense the “stores didn’t generate enough revenues to justify operating expenses.”

When Cook took over as the permanent CEO of Apple last year, he hired John Browett, formerly of the UK-based retail chain, Dixons. Allegedly, the staffing changes led to a more revenue-focused Apple Store.

Sources claim employee standards have also recently changed, with increased attention to how much value the employee is adding to the store in the way of accessory sales. Moreover, Apple Stores will reportedly alter the layout, nixing training areas in favor of more accessory sales areas.

Of course, the concept of a corporation wanting more “revenue” from its retail outlets doesn’t sound all that crazy. But since their inception, and under the leadership of Steve Jobs, Apple Stores have strived to provide a customer experience above and beyond traditional retail.

The sources also claim store maintenance budgets have seen a decline; there’s an awful lot of glass to clean.


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