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Apple 'Messed Up' with Retail Store Cutbacks, Denies Mass Layoffs
In a communication with store leadership teams, senior vice president of retail, John Browett, who took the reins of Apple's retail stores in April, said that the company had been trying a new staffing formula for its retail stores, leading some employees to see their hourly shifts cut and retail locations to be understaffed. This happened for a few weeks before the company decided to revert to its older system, hoping to rectify the problem.
He instructed leadership teams to tell employees, "We messed up," according to two people who were aware of the communication, which also stressed that while shift schedules were affected, no one was laid off. He also wanted employees to know that it was hiring new staff, these people said.
Apple acknowledged the retail staffing changes. "Making these changes was a mistake and the changes are being reversed," said Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman. "Our employees are our most important asset and the ones who provide the world-class service our customers deserve."
Despite Apple's claims that "no one was laid off", we have indeed heard from several Apple employees who have been laid off in recent weeks, with several of them independently claiming that there have been others, although some have called the moves "isolated" while others have characterized them as "many". ifoAppleStore reported yesterday that the cutbacks were made by Browett in an effort to meet profit goals and encourage the "bloated" store staffs to run "leaner", despite the objections of retail veterans within the company.
We did receive an unconfirmed report yesterday claiming that at least some stores held meetings addressing the issue, with promises that the cut hours would be restored and a phone call from Apple's corporate offices apologizing for the situation. It was unclear, however, exactly which employees were included in those meetings.
This is the second high-profile acknowledgment of a "mistake" on Apple's part in recent weeks, with Apple just last month having backpedaled on removing its products from the EPEAT environmental registry. In that case, Apple senior vice president Bob Mansfield posted an open letter apologizing for the company's error.