Apple Reverses Recent Cuts in Retail Store Staffing

Apple Inc. (AAPL) said recent staffing changes it made in its retail stores selling iPhones, iPads and Macs were “a mistake,” and is reversing the policies.

Staffing was reduced at some locations and hours were cut as part of steps implemented by Apple’s new head of retail, John Browett, according to a store employee familiar with the changes who couldn’t be named for fear of being fired. The plan had led to news reports that Cupertino, California-based Apple was cutting workers in stores in London and elsewhere.

The about-face comes as employees at Apple’s more than 370 retail stores are gearing up for next month’s release of the latest iPhone, as well as the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons. Browett joined Apple four months ago as senior vice president of retail from Dixons Retail Plc (DXNS), the U.K.-based electronics store chain where he was chief executive officer. In June, he had announced a round of pay increases for retail workers.

At some locations, Apple also has been limiting transfers among employees who want to work in a different store, according to the retail worker. The changes were due to Browett’s arrival, this person said.

In response, Apple said it would return to its old policy.

“We recently implemented some changes in retail staffing,” said Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple. “Making these changes was a mistake and the changes are being reversed.”

Staffing Formula

The reversal was first reported by Dow Jones. According to the report, Apple had changed its staffing formula, which led to reduced hours and some understaffed stores.

Apple’s retail stores generated $4.1 billion in revenue for the company last quarter, up 17 percent from a year earlier. Average store revenue was $11.1 million, with 83 million people visiting the stores.

The staffing change is the second time in a month that Apple has reversed its decision. Apple said on July 13 it had made a “mistake” when dropping out of an environmental rating system. That decision had drawn criticism from environmental groups and threatened to halt sales to some governments and universities.

-- Editors: Reed Stevenson, Stephen West

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Satariano in San Francisco at asatariano1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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