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By | Paul Kunert 31st January 2012 11:14

Apple lures Dixons boss Browett to run global retail biz

Takes Cook's dollar to expand store empire

Channel bully boy Apple has nabbed Dixons chief exec John Browett to head up its worldwide retail biz.

Browett - who has presided over the struggling UK consumer giant since 2007 - will step down from the board on 20 February and leave on 20 April. He will be replaced by group operations director Sebastian James, will be plonked in the hot seat at group level.

Two of the tasks awaiting Browett, Apple's new worldwide senior veep of retail, include leading the fruity tech titan's consumer strategy and expanding the store footprint.

Tim Cook, Apple's head honcho, said in a PR blurb: "Our retail stores are all about customer service, and John shares that commitment like no one else we've met." The departing Dixons supremo is Cook's first high-profile signing since succeeding Steve Jobs as CEO.

Browett, described by Cook as having "incredible retail experience", said Dixons had made progress in "transforming the group", but added the opportunity to join Apple "is an exciting one".

As well as drafting the turnaround strategy at Dixons to cut millions in costs, Browett pulled the chain out of parts of mainland Europe, redesigned ailing stores and axed staff.

He tried to move Dixons from being a price and promo-led biz to one that highlighted customer service - at least that was the plan - and used store regeneration to draw in punters. He centralised warehousing, took repairs in-house to cut waiting times, and overhauled staff remuneration so that the hard sell was no longer rewarded in the same way, training 14,000 purple-shirted bods in the process.

Browett also presided over Dixons during Blighty's economic storm, during which the retailer saw its credit insurance slashed or in some cases removed by the indemnifiers concerned about the firm's future. This impaired the biz's ability to trade.

In even more recent times, Browett's efforts to improve the profit-and-loss figures came against a backdrop of weakening consumer demand that forced Kesa Electricals to offload Comet and caused Best Buy to up sticks and retreat back to the US.

Late last year, Charles Dunstone, boss at Carphone Warehouse - which held the joint venture with Best Buy in Europe - said part of the reason its flirtation with UK consumers had not worked was because Browett had upped Dixons' game.

Dixons' share price, which fell 30 per cent last year, dropped ten per cent this morning on the confirmation of Browett's departure.

In other related Dixons news, Katie Bickerstaffe has been appointed to a newly created role of chief exec for the UK and Ireland. She also joins the Dixons board on 20 February 2012. ®

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