Internal Apple video documents Apple Store philosophy

Washington Square Films (NYC) gave us a rare look at one of the internal videos that Apple has shown its retail store employees. This one is obviously over a year old, with Ron Johnson at the helm (the date says 7/7/2011).

The video is a pretty impressive piece of work from director Peter Sillen for something that never aired publicly. Among other interesting tidbits, the video shows a store mock-up inside Covent Garden (London) in 2008 before construction with Apple execs examining design elements.

The video seems to be the type you might see on TV. And, with the departure of Ron Johnson (just guessing here), it might have been scrapped without stable store leadership to fill in. Bob Bridger, Apple’s vice president of Retail Development, gets significant ‘face time’, as well.

Update: The video was taken down by Apple. We’ve found another mirror in China embedded above. Here’s a mirror. Here’s another.

Thanks, Gary! Read more

Ron Johnson: Retailing is hard, but Steve told me to trust my intuition and do the right thing

The CEO of JC Penney Ron Johnson sat with CBS “This Morning” to defend his company’s new spokesperson Ellen DeGeneres from attacks by the religious group One Million Moms that seeks to boycott the retailer if it did not axe DeGeneres over her sexual orientation. Putting the controversy aside, the interview (available on the CBS website and over at YouTube) gets interesting at mark 3:50 when Johnson reflects on his long tenure as Apple’s Vice President of Retail. The “Steve Jobs of the retail industry,” as some have dubbed him, said retailing is anything but a walk in the park:

Retailing is hard and that’s what Steve said when we started stores at Apple. But you look, you know, dozen years later and the stores are really popular with people. And they’re really popular because people know that the store cares more what the product does for them than just selling the products. At Apple, in many ways, the relationship with the customer begins when they buy.

Johnson, 53, drew parallels to how he built the Apple Stores on experience. Before joining Apple in January 2000, Johnson served as Target’s Vice President of Merchandising. He left Apple in November 2011 to take the reins at JC Penney. Apple hired CEO of Dixons John Browett as Johnson’s replacement, prompting pundits to opine how folks consider Dixons stores “the worst of Best Buy and Radio Shack combined.” When asked about the lessons he learned from Apple’s cofounder, Johnson responded:

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Former Apple Retail head Ron Johnson talks remaking JC Penney using Apple experience

Ron Johnson, Apple’s former head of retail, pioneered the concept of the Apple Retail Stores and the Genius Bar a decade ago. As you know, he is also yet another established Cupertino executive to use experience at Apple and tap his peers in an effort to transform an industry and rethink a company. Another one: The iPod Godfather Tony Fadell whose intelligent thermostat made quite a stir among the technophiles. Not everyone succeeds, as evident in the case of former Apple hardware chief Jon Rubinstein, who just left Hewlett-Packard following a series of missteps with webOS and Palm.

Due to take over CEO post at the American mid-range department store chain on Feb. 1, Johnson on Wednesday shed more light on a new strategy for an ailing JC Penney, and boy, does it draw from everything he learned during the Apple gig. He conveniently kicked off his presentation with a slide adorned by an Apple logo, which was immediately followed by another “What Were You Thinking?” slide.

Johnson then launched into an appraisal of Apple, likening the iPhone maker to a prime model of lasting brand experiences. Johnson, who left Target for Apple in 2000, recalled that at the time: “There wasn’t one positive believer who thought an Apple retail store could work.”  He then put up a slide depicting the Grand Central outlet, a massive new Apple store built inside New York City’s landmark Grand Central Terminal.

Reiterating how he built Apple Stores on experiences, not commissions, the executive noted:

It’s not about buying. It’s about enriching someone’s life. […] The magic of the store that makes everyone want to come is all the stuff you get beyond the transaction, ’cause at Apple, the relationship doesn’t end when you buy. That’s where it begins. And we’re going to do that at JC Penney.

A few other interesting highlights are below:
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Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer takes charge of retail division as search for Ron Johnson replacement continues

The Grand Central Terminal store opening had Steve Cano and Bob Bridger in attendance

Until November 1, 2011, Apple’s widely successful retail branch was headed by Ron Johnson, J.C. Penney’s new CEO. Since announcing his leave in June of this year, discussion has run ramptant in regards to the successor of Apple’s vital retail division’s leader. Under Ron Johnson sat three central executives responsible for the upkeep and success of Apple’s retail business: Jerry McDougal, Vice President of Merchandising; Bob Bridger, Vice President of VP of Real Estate; and Steve Cano, Senior Director of  International Retail Operations.

In early November, a report claimed that Steve Cano was tapped as the successor of Ron Johnson, but Apple quickly shot down this report and provided comment to 9to5Mac on the situation:

The search for a replacement for Ron Johnson continues, and Apple has nothing to announce about this subject at this time.

With Apple yet to announce a successor for Ron Johnson, the above comment still stands true. Apple has been actively searching for a new retail chief and according to a report from August, Apple has been working with world-renowned executive search firm Egon Zehnder International to find their new retail chief. At this point, it also appears that Jerry McDougall and Bob Bridger won’t be running Apple retail as neither of them are running the retail show right now.

So, who is running Apple retail?  Read more

Ron Johnson: How I built the Apple Store on experience, not commissions

Ron Johnson, the CEO of J.C. Penney and the former senior vice president for retail at Apple, ran a guest post detailing his Apple tenure over at the Harward Business Review blog, accompanying a monster interview which appears in the December 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review magazine.

Apple doesn’t owe its success in retail to shiny products, he said. “You don’t need to stock iPads to create an irresistible retail environment”, he said. “You have to create a store that’s more than a store to people”. Even though Apple products can be purchased for less elsewhere, people visit Apple’s stores for the experience, not products, he argued:

People come to the Apple Store for the experience — and they’re willing to pay a premium for that. There are lots of components to that experience, but maybe the most important — and this is something that can translate to any retailer — is that the staff isn’t focused on selling stuff, it’s focused on building relationships and trying to make people’s lives better. That may sound hokey, but it’s true. Read more

Retail update: Redesigned Knox Street store re-opens Friday, new store launches in Spain’s tourist town of Marbella

As Apple’s former retail chief Ron Johnson sets its sights on re-inventing the shopping experience at the J.C. Penney department stores and the search for his replacement continues, the Cupertino, California-headquartered gadget designer isn’t resting on its laurels. Future plans call for continuation of an aggressive retail expansion that includes 40 new stores during fiscal 2012, thirty of them outside the United States. Read more

Ron Johnson tapping former Apple peers but not poaching…yet

Ron Johnson, Apple’s former vice president of retail and the creator of the Apple Store, left for J.C. Penney November 1 and already he is picking industry veterans to join his leadership team at the Plano, Texas-headquartered department store chain. The Wall Street Journal reports that Johnson is tapping former Apple talent, including former chief financial office of Apple Retail Michael Kramer and Apple’s chief talent officer Daniel Walker.

Interestingly, it was Walker who helped Steve Jobs hire Ron Johnson to head Apple’s retail efforts. Both men served at Apple from 2000 to 2005. Granted, Walker and Kramer are both long-exited Apple people, but the temptation for current Apple talent to somehow make its way to Penney will always linger.

Sure, you might say who would  rather work at J.C. Penney rather than the most powerful, cool technology company in the world. But on a granular level, there might be high paying jobs with Johnson that Apple won’t match that could draw some top Apple talent.  Johnson himself is probably the best example of that.

There is also likely a non-compete clause in Ron Johnson’s severance agreement barring him from poaching Apple employees, but those are easily circumvented.  Just as Steve Jobs poached a bunch of his top Apple engineers to build out NeXT…
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Steve Cano to replace Ron Johnson as Head of Retail at Apple? (Update: Search ongoing)

 

Update: The reporters at Bloomberg are somehow using us as a source for this false rumor.  We’ve contacted them to correct but they’ve so far left it untouched.  Our report comes from iFoAppleStore and CultofMac (below)

Updated from Cult of Mac: Apple has gotten back to us a statement, reading: “The search for a replacement for Ron Johnson continues, and Apple has nothing to announce about this subject at this time.”

Updated: 2: Apple wanted to make sure it was clear that no decision has been made yet and the Cult of Mac story is without merit.

Ron Johnson has only been gone a few days but rumors are already swirling that Steve Cano will be replacing the new JCPenney CEO as head of Apple’s retail business. Cult of Mac reports separately from an earlier post by ifoAppleStore’s Gary Allen which seems to indicate that Cano will assume the position. Here is the full statement as released by the Apple Retail Workers Union:

Statement regarding Steve Jobs and the future of Apple

by Apple Retail Workers Union on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 2:06am

The organizers of the Apple Retail Workers Union wish to express their condolences to the family of Steve Jobs. He was an inspiration to many, and will be regarded as one of the greats of our time. He followed his heart and did what he loved, which resulted in Apple becoming one of the greatest companies in the world. He surrounded himself with intelligent people who helped create technology that improved the way we live and share our lives.

With that in mind, we want to remind that while Steve and his teams created products and solutions to work “right out of the box”, Apple’s retail stores are still experiencing problems 10 years after launch. The messages we receive from workers illustrate a desire for improved compensation, consistent management policies and adherence to local, state and national laws. The feeling extends to the workers at Apple’s suppliers including Foxconn, Wintek, Samsung and others.

We wish much success to Tim Cook and Steve Cano, who will be leading Apple and its retail stores going forward. As word of our movement grows and workers become increasingly interested in finding solutions where management is unwilling or unable, we continue to take pride in the opportunity we have every day to provide our customers with enriching experiences. At our core, we simply want Apple to return to its roots and remind itself that their “most important resource… is our people”.

We can’t confirm that Cano has been promoted and in fact his role is still listed as Apple retail employee in Region XV. He’s certainly in the running, as one of Ron Johnson’s subordinates.

Cano started with Apple ten years ago as the manager of Steve Jobs’s local Palo Alto Apple Store. He then rose through the ranks…

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John Herbold has left the iCloud

According to his LinkedIn Profile, John Herbold has left the iCloud.  On his departure, he said:

I’ve been fortunate enough to define, ship and market a variety of products for one of the world’s most admired product companies. That opportunity was a great privilege.

Now I get to take that experience and apply it to the enormous challenge of materially improving youth health.

He is the third prominent Apple employee to leave the company in recent months (though much less so than the others), following MacOSX head Bertrand Serlet a few months ago and Stores leader Ron Johnson last week.

He was at Apple during the MobileMe rollout and managed to stay almost until the iCloud announcement this month.

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