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Apple's Ex Retail guru Ron Johnson 'fired', could he return to Apple?

Karen Haslam | April 10, 2013
The Apple Retail story is turning into quite a drama. In the latest twist, Ron Johnson, ex head of Apple retail, has been ousted from JC Penney where he was CEO.

The Apple Retail story is turning into quite a drama. In the latest twist, Ron Johnson, ex head of Apple retail, has been ousted from JC Penney where he was CEO.

The news has left many speculating that Johnson could return to Apple, which has no leader in its retail department since Johnson's replacement John Browett was reportedly fired last year.

It appears that Johnson has met a similar fate at JC Penney to his Apple replacement. According to reports he was fired because JC Penney has seen a 27% drop in revenue in the past year. The retailer has also seen its lowest sales in decades, amidst the worst recession of the past 80 years, according to Apple Insider's report.

A report in The New York Times last week reported that Johnson had seen a 97 percent pay cut for failing to bring success to the retailer and overseeing $4 billion in lost sales. That left him with a salary of $1.9 million (according to filings he should have seen $3,375,000 in compensation). Some of his changes included instituting a ban on discounts, according to The Verge.

Former JC Penney CEO Mike Ullman III has been selected to replace Johnson, according to a JC Penney press release. According to a CNBC report, Ullman will take a salary of $1 million (notably less that that of Johnson).

In the press release JC Penney chairman Thomas Engibous said: "We would like to thank Ron Johnson for his contributions while at JCPenney and wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Johnson left Apple in November 2011, taking with him other members of Apple's retail team, notes Apple Insider.

Who's running Apple Retail?

Browett joined Apple in April 2012, previously he was CEO of Dixons. However he made a number of mistakes that made him unpopular at Apple including revising the company's scheduling practices, meaning already stressed employees would need to work more hours, and then mistakenly laying off recently hired retail staff.

Browett left last November and now heads up Monsoon/Accessorise back in the UK.

In the meantime Apple CEO Tim Cook has been managing Apple retail along with vice president of finance Jim Bean.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference on 12 February, Cook said that the companies retail stores are "the face of Apple" and that he will continue to invest in them. 

"There's no better place to discover, explore, and learn about our products than in retail," he said. "Our team members there are the most amazing, awesome, incredible people on earth. It's the best retail experience. It's a retail experience where you walk in and you realise the store is not here for the purpose of selling, it's here for the purpose of serving."

 

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