Yesterday, the fine ifoAppleStore blog broke the news that VP Retail John Browett was planning on cutting the hours for many of Apple’s retail employees, and laying others off, all in the name of cutting costs:
Browett feels the stores are “too bloated” with employees, and he is willing to gamble the stores’ legendary customer experience to gain back a few points of profit margin. Browett’s decision reportedly came despite strongly-worded advice from Retail segment veterans that reducing personnel ahead of the annual Back-to-School promotion and the September introduction of the iPhone 5 could create a customer service catastrophe. Browett disagreed with his staff, and said the chain needs to learn to run “leaner” in all areas, even if the customer experience is compromised.
Anyone who has visited even a semi-popular Apple store knows that the last thing they need to do is reduce the number of employees. Jim Dalrymple thought this was a terrible move, too:
This has the stench of a man looking to make a name for himself, not someone that’s doing what’s best for Apple or more importantly, its customers. To take one of the most heralded retail experiences in the world and gut it, stripping it of everything that makes an Apple store what it is, just doesn’t make sense. […]
With $100 billion or so in the bank, the last thing Browett needs to worry about is cost cutting measures to save a few pennies here and there. Instead he should be focused on how to best serve the surge of consumers that will take to the stores in the coming months to buy new Apple products.
The negative PR apparently paid off, because Apple reversed their decision today, and someone (hopefully) told John Browett that this was idiotic:
Apple acknowledged the retail staffing changes. “Making these changes was a mistake and the changes are being reversed,” said Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman. “Our employees are our most important asset and the ones who provide the world-class service our customers deserve.”
I’m quite happy that this was reversed. If anything, Apple needs to go in the opposite direction and hire more people. There’s no reason they shouldn’t, or can’t.