Apple Searches for a Fresh Face to Head Retail

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is continuing its long-running search for a new head of its retail operations as the Cupertino-based company approaches a year without someone in this position. However, if you are already employed by Apple, don’t expect to be tapped for the job. According to insider sources cited by the Wall Street Journal, Apple is only seeking candidates from outside the company.

Apple has been without a head of retail operations since it fired former Dixons Retail CEO John Browett in October 2012. Browett’s six-month stint as Apple’s head of retail was controversial due to several cost-cutting measures he implemented for Apple Stores, including eliminating staff and reducing working hours. CEO Tim Cook has handled Apple’s retail operations since Browett’s departure.

Apple’s recent hiring of former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve sparked speculation that the luxury retail executive would fill Apple’s vacant retail position. However, Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet later stated that, “He’ll [Deneve] be working on special projects as a vice president reporting directly to Tim Cook.”

Some commentators have wondered if the lack of a retail operations chief is having a negative impact on sales at Apple Stores. Although third-quarter Apple Store sales declined very slightly from the same quarter last year, CFO Peter Oppenheimer noted in the quarterly earnings call that revenue was “approximately equal.” However, it was the first drop in the Cupertino-based company’s year-over-year quarterly sales since 2009 reports the Wall Street Journal.

Despite the stagnant year-over-year revenue growth, Apple Stores remain the most successful retail stores in the U.S. based on sales per square foot, according to analyst Horace Dediu at Asymco. In the third-quarter earnings call this year, Oppenheimer noted that the “June average revenue per store was 10.1 million.” Oppenheimer also pointed out that the 84 million visitors to Apple Stores throughout the quarter meant that each Apple Store averaged about 16,000 visitors per week.

Here’s how Apple has traded so far today.

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