Apple Stores Glow Less Brightly

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By Ian Sherr and Joann S. Lublin

Apple Inc.’s search for a new head of its retail stores is dragging into its 10th month, at a time when the stores need extra attention: The company recently reported its first drop in store sales in at least four years.

In 2001, Apple changed the retail game when it threw open the doors to the Apple Store’s sleek and bright, modern interiors—completely different from electronics warehouses of the day stuffed with accessories and cords. The stores were temples for all things Apple, and destinations for early adopters.

But today, just as Apple’s products have become ubiquitous, the format of its stores has become commonplace.

The company has been reinstating spending and reversing policy decisions that were unpopular with customers during the six-month tenure of John Browett, who had been brought in to run Apple’s stores in April 2012. Tim Cook, the company’s chief executive, has been heading up the stores since announcing Mr. Browett’s departure in October.

Apple’s search for a replacement, handled by recruiters Egon Zehnder International, has gone slowly, people familiar with the matter said, and the company has yet to settle on a finalist after interviewing several external candidates.

Among those interviewed but rejected as a poor fit were wireless and telecommunications-industry executives, one such person said. A CEO of a privately held retailer in France spurned Apple’s overtures, believing it would be hard to change Apple’s culture as an outsider, another person said.

Apple doesn’t consider internal candidates to be an option, according to a third person familiar with the matter.

 

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(Published Aug 2, 2013, in The Wall Street Journal.)