Apple has apologized for recent Apple Store staffing screw-ups that saw one of the most laudable retail operations in the world cut and confuse staff and threaten a reputation that, until now, has been second-to-none. Stories about the cuts and confusion in Apple Retail began to spread last week, and while Apple is denying reports about layoffs, they are admitting to the incredibly poor judgement when it comes to Apple Retail staffing general:
In a communication with store leadership teams, senior vice president of retail, John Browett, who took the reins of Apple's retail stores in April, said that the company had been trying a new staffing formula for its retail stores, leading some employees to see their hourly shifts cut and retail locations to be understaffed. This happened for a few weeks before the company decided to revert to its older system, hoping to rectify the problem.
He instructed leadership teams to tell employees, "We messed up," according to two people who were aware of the communication, which also stressed that while shift schedules were affected, no one was laid off. He also wanted employees to know that it was hiring new staff, these people said.
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."
Browett replaced longtime Apple Store mastermind, former SVP Ron Johnson who left to run JC Penny. At the time, Browett's hiring raised eyebrows. If he did engineer this tragically misguided direction for Apple retail, he deserves the blame he's getting. But so do those at Apple who hired and empowered him. Change for change's sake is not good business, and change for any reason other than to make better things has seldom if ever been Apple's business.
Rather than get into a rant of my own, however, I'll give the floor to Jim Dalrymple of The Loop:
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 server the surge of consumers that will take to the stores in the coming months to buy new Apple products.
Go read the rest of Jim's post, and Info Apple Store's report on the entire cluster that led to it. Especially if you're on Apple's executive team.
You're at the top of your game right now, this type of stuff becomes no one.