Former Dixons executive John Browett shown the door at Apple

From Hemel Hempstead to Cupertino - and back again

When John Browett swapped Dixons in Hemel Hempstead for the slightly sunnier outlook of Apple in California, he was talked up as the big hope for Corporate Britain.

The retail executive’s surprise move to Apple to drive the global expansion of its stores earned him a golden hello worth £36m and a pass to the top of what has since become the most valuable company in history. It also made him the first British executive to be poached by a major overseas company in years. Now though, just six months after being appointed, he is on his way back home after being shown the door in Cupertino.

Despite a rise in sales and the opening of more Apple stores, it was reported that Mr Browett caused widespread unhappiness within the company through proposed changes to staffing, including the cutting of hours and a freeze on the hiring of new employees.

Apple later backtracked on the plans, but the episode was damaging. Spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said at the time: “Making these changes was a mistake and the changes are being reversed. Our employees are our most important asset and the ones who provide the world-class service our customers deserve.”

Mr Browett’s arrival at Apple had attracted criticism from the outset. His new boss Tim Cook began fielding emails from disgruntled Apple fanatics within a day. Responding to the concerns of one, named Tony Hart, he wrote: “I talked to many people and John was the best by far. I think you will be as pleased as I am. His role isn’t to bring Dixons to Apple, [it is] to bring Apple to an even higher level of customer service and satisfaction.”

The announcement that the retail specialist is leaving less than a year later, however, was limited to a short statement in the penultimate paragraph of a long press release. After trumpeting a host of top level moves, the company said: “Additionally, John Browett is leaving Apple. A search for a new head of Retail is underway and in the interim, the Retail team will report directly to Tim Cook.” The company declined to comment further yesterday.

In its announcement, Apple praised the “excellent work” of its retail team, but made no specific mention of Mr Browett’s tenure there, focusing instead on the “past decade” as a whole. Mr Cook, however, will have been left embarrassed by the departure of Mr Browett after publicly backing him.

Mr Browett’s golden hello of 100,000 shares, worth around £36m, was to be paid out over five years. Apple accounts show that he has only acquired around 5,000 shares in his short tenure, worth nearly £1.9m. Asked whether Mr Browett would be welcomed back by his former employers yesterday, a Dixons spokesman refused to comment.

One British executive to benefit on a day of high-level jockeying at Apple, however, was designer Sir Jonathan Ive, who will take on extra responsibilities providing “leadership and direction for Human Interface across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design”.

Moving on

John Browett is not the only high-flying tech executive to have had his wings clipped soon after take-off. Earlier this year, Yahoo! chief executive Scott Thompson was forced to stand down after allegations of a fake computer science degree on his CV surfaced. He had been in the job for less than six months.

The scandal began when Daniel Loeb, a shareholder who wanted Mr Thompson out, claimed the former PayPal President had  misrepresented his qualifications. The mistake was confirmed, but Mr Thompson put it down to a headhunting firm.

A board meeting was hastily convened and later in the day it was announced that Mr Thompson was leaving. Having only recently announced 2,000 job cuts at the struggling firm, Mr Thompson was eventually replaced by former Google executive Marissa Meyer.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Microsoft Gold partner, our c...

    Ashdown Group: Sales Support - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Internal Sales Executive ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Analyst / Helpdesk - 2 Month Contract - £15ph - High Wycombe

    £15 per hour: Ashdown Group: IT Analyst / Helpdesk - 2 Month Contract - £15ph ...

    Recruitment Genius: Automation Test Analyst

    £35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This group is the world's secon...

    Day In a Page

    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m