Annual Retail Conference Cancelled on Short Notice

October 26, 2012

Right about now, some 800 Apple retail employees would be packing their suitcases and heading home from Phoenix (Ariz.) after the company’s annual Retail Team Conference. Instead, the conference was abruptly cancelled last week on short notice, and all the participants stayed home to put in a routine work-week. The five-day conference has always been a key annual get-together for top-level retail team members from around the world. Participants spend time reviewing store operations over the past year, attend training classes, receive recognition and strategize for the coming year. But sources say this year, just days before participants were to travel, they were notified the gathering had been cancelled. The sources said this week’s new product event was the reason given for the cancellation. However, they noted Apple has previously scheduled product debuts during the week of a retail conference without conflicts, including last year’s iPhone 4s launch during the Chicago conference. That raises questions about the real motive for the cancellation. Previous reports have documented various cost-cutting measures instituted by Sr. V-P Retail John Browett, hired by Apple earlier this year. The cuts were aimed at retail store employees, and ostensibly intended to streamline store operations. But sources said the motive was really to reduce retail segment expenses, thereby improving the unit’s profit margin. The sources speculate that this week’s conference cancellation is part of Browett’s continuing move towards a leaner retail operation. If true, it means that even upper-level, veteran executives and staffers are not immune to Browett’s search for cost savings. In this case, even with substantial no-show penalties for airline tickets, hotel rooms and meeting spaces, sources said that canceling the event would still be considered a money-saver.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Ernie October 26, 2012 at 1203

That’s crazy! It must have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties to shut that down! Way to value your employees, Browett.

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mk October 26, 2012 at 1448

verrrrry sad…..i don´t like Browett and i think nobody like´s him…..Apple Retail is not BestBuy or some other Sales machine……go home Browett

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VictorL October 27, 2012 at 0015

It’s just fine that this was canceled. It’s a vapid meeting for mostly talentless managers to come together to be wined and dined at a high hotel and to pat themselves on the back while expounding upon their virtues as good leaders. This class of people washed up on Apple’s shores as refugees from other struggling retailers like Gap and Banana Republic. They hold a mystical belief that customers would come to the Apple store even if Apple sold jeans.

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David October 27, 2012 at 1848

Could not agree more. When I worked at Apple retail, the managers that were able to attend were constantly bragging about how lavishly they were treated but consistently failed to bring anything substantive to the store to improve operations.

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InsideApple October 27, 2012 at 1902

As the previous poster (VictorL) commented…its very true. The press and the general public have no idea what is happening inside Apple retail…and if they did they would be shocked. The level of morale is at an all time low, and sadly Apple’s retail employees as well as customers are suffering. Apple Retail has dissolved into a myriad of lies perpetuated by very unskilled and self serving “Managers”, “Store Leaders”, “Business Leaders” and “Market Leaders”. The level of politics is unprecedented and compounded by the fact that these retail people that have come from previous retailers like the Gap, Pottery Barn, and Best Buy are simply vapid and dumb. Being on the inside and seeing it first hand is like walking through a field of zombies, trying to make believe you are one of them so you don’t get bit or attacked. The moment someone goes against “Leadership” (a term used to describe the managers at a store or group of stores/market, is in of itself the most preposterous misuse of the word), they immediately begin to attack, but not directly…behind your back until your “career” (another joke to describe work at Apple Retail), is ruined and stopped.

This meeting (RTC) which the Senior “Leadership” teams would go to were simply another forum to politic and posture and truly get nothing done except to claw their way up…but here in lies the real issue. These people don’t get anything done anyway when they “work”. If you ask the majority of the retail workers what their true opinions are of their “Leadership Team”, they would laugh and tell you they are a joke.

Although Browett is disliked and is clearly somewhat inept, he’s not dumb enough to realize that the people that would be going to this conference are nothing more than sheep…or cats that he has to try to herd, so why pay for them to drink and party. The glow and perception of milk and honey at Apple Retail is over.

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ex-Apple October 30, 2012 at 0821

InsideApple. all retail companies have meetings like this. The intent is for upper management to impart their vision for the year and highlight what they want the lesser management team to focus upon. The lavishness is designed to enhance the lower management opinion of upper management and also as a thank you for the past year of effort. Clearly you have an incredibly low opinion of management, maybe your store isn’t the best example. But I’d ask you to use the same filter managers are supposed to use when considering your actions: positive intent. Most of the managers I knew at Apple really did care about their teams, tried hard to stand up for them and help them navigate the circuitous path to promotion. Try to keep in mind that when your local managers shift from leaders to bean counters, that is the direction and pressure from the top. And to say that your managers don’t do any work is just plain ignorance; if you knew what has to be done (the stuff you don’t see), you would not say that. Every store can have one or two managers who phone it in, but the rest then pick up the slack. They are accountable for things not visible to you. I hope the shift in upper management makes things better where you are…if not, try transferring to a different location.

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HMF November 1, 2012 at 0054

Inside Apple, well said. From the heart and obviously from experience. I have seen these new, “Leader” positions and more levels of management put between corporate and the people who do the actual selling and customer interaction. I have seen Business Leaders brought in over experienced Business Team members who are on the front lines with customers. They are just another level of management and they don’t really do their jobs which is to “Support” their team. They are looking to cover their asses and report any issues to corporate. They are looking to claim responsibility for guiding their team members to large sales that they had nothing to deal with. They are looking to be in on recognition that is gained on the backs of those they manage.

How many in “Leader” positions actually sell stuff and fix stuff? How many in “Leader” positions have lead their teams towards creating better workplace environments? Maybe a few Store Leaders but Market and Business Leaders???? Come on now!!! Next thing you know, there is going to be an Operator Leader, Genius Leader, Visuals Leader but ultimately, it’s no better than the Toilet Leader. Flush that crapola away please.

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Londoncalling October 29, 2012 at 0222

Inside apple: Bitter much ?
You get good managers and shitty ones all over the spectrum, regarless of the retailer, regardless of where they worked previously, regardless of their teams, regardless of the conventions the go to.
That broad generalization that all are corrupt is just a convenient mirror of your own ignorance.

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jonsi October 29, 2012 at 1419

It was cancelled due to John Browett’s departure from Apple.

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ex-Apple October 29, 2012 at 1456

Anyone who knows Apple had to know that Browett was on borrowed time. From day one. This time I hope Cook gets it right – Steve Cano. He’s not perfect but he gets the Apple experience. Bringing in an outsider to run retail is risky without Steve around to keep them on a short leash.

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Rick Stawarz October 29, 2012 at 1909

Mystery solved.

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Laurene October 30, 2012 at 0551

ex-Apple, is right, Tim is just making another stupid decision if he doesn’t hire Cano. Apple Retail is a rare beast, an outsider might think he understands it on the surface, but they have no idea — I think Cano could be a truly great leader, he will bring a new and sorely needed perspective once he has the power to really influence it. Ideas people, ideas!

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CRLdr October 31, 2012 at 2208

I too would love to see Steve Cano given the opportunity. He is connected to our stores and our people. He also has a proven track record.

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