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Cook hires first exec since taking Apple's reins from Jobs

Makes CEO of struggling European chain Dixons head of Apple's retail

January 31, 2012 12:34 PM ET
John Browett
John Browett of the struggling European electronics chain Dixons will take charge of Apple's retail in April.

Computerworld - Apple CEO Tim Cook made his first major hire yesterday since taking over the company in August, bringing in the CEO of a struggling British electronics chain to lead Apple's own retail operation.

Apple said Monday that John Browett, chief executive of Dixons Retail, will take the reins of its own retail arm in April. Browett replaces Ron Johnson, who left Apple in November to become the CEO of J.C. Penney.

Browett, 46, will be the new senior vice president of retail; he will report directly to Cook.

Dixons, Europe's second-largest chain of electronics stores, has approximately 1,200 outlets under brands including Currys and PC World; the latter is no relation to PC World, a U.S.-based sister publication of Computerworld.

The chain has struggled for years, losing 92% of its share value since 2007, when Barrett moved into the CEO suite after an eight-year stint with Tesco, a British supermarket chain.

Dixon's stock has rebounded slightly this month, however.

Cook touted Apple's famous retail service in a statement announcing Browett's hiring.

"Our retail stores are all about customer service, and John shares that commitment like no one else we've met," said Cook. "We are thrilled to have him join our team and bring his incredible retail experience to Apple."

Customer reviews of Dixons and its two biggest chains, however, paint a different picture: According to Trustpilot, a customer review website, Dixons garnered a score of 4 out of 10, while Currys rated a 4.5 and PC World did even poorer at just 3.3.

Apple, meanwhile, scored an 8 out of a possible 10 at Trustpilot.

Apple's retail chain now includes 361 stores that generated revenue of $6.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011, or 13% of the company's total during the period.

Earlier this month, Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's chief financial officer, said the company's stores logged 110 million visitors during the quarter, or about 22,000 visitors per store per week. Traffic was up 45% over the same quarter in 2010, Oppenheimer said.

Cook has been the CEO of Apple since August 24, 2011, when he took the spot that co-founder Steve Jobs vacated. Jobs died six weeks later of complications from a long-running battle with pancreatic cancer.

covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at Twitter @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed Keizer RSS. His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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