Apple PR Fail: Tech Giant Scolds New SVP

Hey, how’s Apple doing? Well, their stock just soared to an all-time high in anticipation of new iPhone and iPad models, and they’re currently the most respected company on the planet according to a recent Barron‘s survey. So yeah, no worries there.

But today we bring you news of a rare PR Fail among Apple’s top brass. John Browett joined the company in January as senior vice president of retail, replacing the lamented Ron Johnson after he left to head aging retailer JCPenney–and the new guy found himself in a bit of hot water this week thanks to a few well-placed rumors and some very dedicated bloggers.

Seems like Browett told some insiders at the company that, in his humble opinion, the celebrated Apple Stores were “bloated” with too many employees. He then shared news of his plans to help them run “leaner” by reducing the hours of part-timers and laying off hundreds of recent hires at branches around the world if they insisted on working more than 32 hours a week. This tough talk quickly came back to bite Browett–hard. 

Unfortunately for the new SVP, word of his downsizing plans began to circle the blogosphere earlier this week, and the news was especially unwelcome coming on the heels of reports criticizing Apple for paying its retail employees so little when its profits are so large.

The real insider scoop? Browett made his decision in spite of strongly-worded warnings from retail vets within the company who told him not to cut staff right before the back-to-school promotional period and the iPad/iPhone roll-out. After these reports ran, Apple’s PR team reached out to The Wall Street Journal to let everyone know that Browett had benched his austerity plans and admitted to all involved that he had “screwed up.”

Some of Apple’s biggest fans began to pile on Browett, and the company released an uncharacteristically blunt statement:

“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.”

Apple is one of the best-run companies in the world–did they make a mistake in hiring Browett? Will he learn from the public spanking he just received?