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Apple names John Browett new retail chief

Company says the CEO of European technology retailer Dixons will take over the currently empty position in April.

John Browett has been tapped as Apple's new senior vice president of retail.
John Browett has been tapped to become Apple's new senior vice president of retail. Dixons

After losing the mastermind behind its retail stores last year, Apple has been on the hunt for someone who will keep up its momentum.

Apple is placing its bets on John Browett, CEO of European technology retailer Dixons. Browett will be joining Apple in April as senior vice president of retail, the company announced last night. In his new role, Browett will be charged with handling Apple's retail strategy and continuing Apple Store expansion worldwide.

"Our retail stores are all about customer service, and John shares that commitment like no one else we've met," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. "We are thrilled to have him join our team and bring his incredible retail experience to Apple."

Browett will step down from the Dixons board on February 20 and officially leave the retailer on April 20, Dixons said in a statement on its Web site.

"The opportunity ahead of me is an exciting one and I leave knowing that the group has a bright future under strong leadership," Browett said in a statement. He became Dixons CEO in 2007.

For Dixons, the loss of Browett couldn't come at a worse time. Over the last month, the company's shares have risen more than 40 percent, due to strong performance and investor confidence. However, the company's shares, which trade on the London Stock Exchange, are down nearly 9 percent today, following news of his departure.

At Apple, Browett will have big shoes to fill. In June, Apple announced that Ron Johnson, the person responsible for establishing its retail stores and helping them grow to more than 350 locations worldwide, was leaving to become CEO of J.C. Penney. Johnson's departure left a major hole in an increasingly important part of Apple's business, requiring Apple to find the right person to continue Johnson's approach to retail.

And what is that approach? In a guest column for the Harvard Business Review, Johnson wrote that Apple's secret retail sauce wasn't about just selling products; it was about getting store employees to help customers in any way they could.

"Compare that with other retailers, where the emphasis is on cross-selling and upselling and, basically, encouraging customers to buy more, even if they don't want or need it," Johnson wrote. "That doesn't enrich their lives, and it doesn't deepen the retailer's relationship with them. It just makes their wallets lighter."

Updated at 5:24 a.m. PT to include background.