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Monday, August 27, 2012, 08:25 pm PT (11:25 pm ET)

Apple Stores reportedly continue to see cutbacks as focus shifts to revenue

A report on Monday outlines the supposed gradual but significant change Apple's retail stores are going through as Senior Vice President of Retail John Browett emphasizes revenue over customer experience.

Citing inside sources, ifoAppleStore reports that signs persist of an emphasis on revenues at Apple's retail outlets, saying the drive to profits is taking its toll on employees and could tarnish the chain's reputation.

The report comes after retail chief John Browett allegedly laid off a significant number of recently-hired staff, cut back working hours for part-timers and put a freeze on inter-store transfers in order to boost profit margins. In a subsequent investigative piece by The Wall Street Journal, Browett claimed the staffing changes were a "mistake," noting that the actions had been reversed. He then reportedly requested leadership teams tell employees "we messed up," stressing that there were no layoffs taking place and new hires were being made.

According to the unnamed sources, the employees who had been "dismissed" were rehired and transfers resumed, though some locations still have no in-store workshops, offer limited overtime and haven't yet reversed demotions.

Browett supposedly has yet to apologize for the "mistake," and has instead reportedly instructed employees not to discuss the matter. Morale has declined, according to one insider, due to lack of information, inability to discuss the situation and increased pressure to sell product.

Sources say employee performance is measured by metrics, including contract sales of iPhones and a program called "essentials per hero product," which weighs in the amount of value-added merchandise like accessories a salesperson moves. Staff has also reportedly been advised to urge customers to use the EasyPay app, however sales made through the program aren't credited to a specialist's sales history which relates directly with performance.

Apple Store Staff


Perhaps even more of a problem are alleged cuts to maintenance budgets, which could affect the trademark cleanliness of Apple Store floorspace and product displays. Also reportedly cut are select training areas and Red Zone displays, to be replaced by more "Etc." and accessory shelving.

While it is unclear how widespread the changes are, or if they even officially exist, sources claim there has been a definite emphasis on revenue since Browett took over for former retail head Ron Johnson in January.