Apple poaches PC World and Currys group chief to run its stores

THE retail boss credited with helping PC World and Currys stores survive the downturn has been poached by technology giant Apple to run its shop portfolio.

The surprise appointment of John Browett as Apple’s senior vice president of retail caused shares in Dixons Retail Group, the owner of PC World and Currys, to fall by 5% amid City disappointment at his departure.

Mr Browett, a former management high-flyer at Tesco, joined Dixons at the end of 2007 and overhauled the business following a period of under-performance.

And while sales and profits have been under pressure in recent months, Dixons has just seen off the challenge of US firm Best Buy, which this month shut its 10 ‘big box’ megastores in a joint venture with Carphone Warehouse.

From April, Mr Browett will be in charge of 361 Apple stores worldwide, an operation which took 6.1 billion US dollars (�3.9 billion) in revenues from the sale of iPhones, iPads and Macs in the final quarter of 2011.

Tim Cook, the chief executive of California-based Apple, said: “Our retail stores are all about customer service, and John shares that commitment like no one else we’ve met.

“We are thrilled to have him join our team and bring his incredible retail experience to Apple.”

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Dixons moved swiftly to replace Mr Browett by appointing group operations director Sebastian James as his successor.

The former Mothercare strategy director, who has been with the group since 2008, worked closely with Mr Browett on the transformation programme and developed the new store formats seen at Currys and PC World.

Dixons also appointed Katie Bickerstaffe to the new role of chief executive for UK and Ireland.

Mr Browett said today: “The opportunity ahead of me is an exciting one and I leave knowing that the group has a bight future under strong leadership.”