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Apple axes former Dixons chief hired to shake up its stores

Scott Forstall, pictured, and John Browett have parted ways with Apple. Picture: Getty

Scott Forstall, pictured, and John Browett have parted ways with Apple. Picture: Getty

  • by GARETH MACKIE
 

APPLE chief executive Tim Cook has parted company with two of his top executives following problems in new product development and the company’s stores.

• Former Dixons Retail chief executive John Browett has left after just six months as head of retail at Apple

• Long-serving Scott Forstall also to leave company next year

Former Dixons Retail chief executive John Browett has left after just six months as head of retail at the technology giant, which also announced the departure of its long-serving head of iPhone software development.

California-based Apple gave no reason for Browett’s exit, announced as part of a wider management shake up that will see Sir Jonathan Ive, its highly regarded industrial design chief, take on more responsibilities for the look and feel of its software.

News that Browett had been poached by Cook shocked the market in January, with analysts describing him as the “figurehead” of a turnaround at the owner of Currys and PC World.

He joined the iPhone and Mac computer maker in April, taking responsibility for more than 360 stores, and Cook said at the time that Browett shared the group’s commitment to customer service “like no-one else we’ve met”.

However, sources said Browett, who held a number of senior positions at Tesco before joining Dixons, had ruffled feathers by trying to improve profits at Apple’s stores by cutting staff levels and had failed to increase the pace of expansion in China.

The management upheaval will also see company veteran Scott Forstall, the head of its iPhone software development operations, leave next year.

Forstall’s division recently launched a software update that replaced Google Maps with Apple’s first mapping application. It quickly attracted criticism for a range of errors and last month the company apologised to customers, vowing to work “non-stop” to improve the software.

Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight, said: “These changes show that Tim Cook is stamping his authority on the business. Perhaps disappointed with the Maps issues, Forstall became the scapegoat.”

Insiders said Forstall had refused to put his name to the public apology, which was instead signed by Cook, who took over as chief executive in August 2011 when co-founder Steve Jobs stood down.

Jobs, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003, died last October.

Forstall’s leaving date was not confirmed, but Apple said he would act as an adviser to Cook until his departure next year.

Eddy Cue, head of the group’s online services and iTunes, will now take charge of Maps and Siri, the “virtual assistant” application on the iPhone and iPad.

 

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