Apple boosts wages, discounts for retail store employees

A New York Times story is being credited for jolting Apple into granting some generous raises for the hourly wage workers who staff the company's retail stores. But the raises were apparently already planned, and announced for early-than-expected release, by Apple's new retail store chief.

The Times published on June 23 a story that examined the wages of Apple's employees, in light of the spectacular sales they generate in the justly lauded stores owned and operated by the computer maker.

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Many news sites reported the raises as if they were unexpected. Businessweek reported that employees would get bigger discounts on Apple hardware products ($500 off most Macs and $250 off iPads, though not the new iPad, in addition to their existing 25% discount), along with raises that had been originally planned for September.

The Los Angeles Times suggested that Apple pushed up the raises after The New York Times began investigating for its story four months ago. "But now it seems as if Apple might have been trying to gain favor with both the press and its employees before the New York Times article was published," according to that story.

But at least one Apple-focused news site, 9to5Mac, reported months ago that both the bigger discounts, as well as the decision to make the raises effective earlier, had been reported to employees. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the new discounts, to start in June, during a January 2012 "town meeting" with employees.

And the advance in the raises was announced at the end of May, in a video to employees by Apple's recently appointed Senior Vice President of Apple Retail John Browett, who joined the company in April. He'd been CEO of a U.K. retail chain, Dixons, replacing Ron Johnson, who pioneered the retail stores and left in November 2011 to become CEO of J.C. Penney.

The New York Times story, by David Segal, packed with data on Apple's retail arm, opened with the example of a Salem, N.H., Apple store employee named Jordon Golson, who sold about $750,000 worth of products during his best quarter while earning $11.25 an hour.

That's actually much better than the retail industry average, of $7.25, and Apple offers generous benefits for its largely 20-something workforce. The Times noted that nearly 3 of every 4 Apple employees (30,000 out of 43,000 in the U.S.) are not software engineers and hardware designers, but hourly retail staff working in 327 company stores around the world. Many of them, according to the Times, earn about $25,000.

Based on revenue divided by employees, each store employee, including non-sales staff, generated $473,000 last year in revenue, an astonishing figure: "Electronics and appliance stores typically post $206,000 in revenue per employee, according to the latest figures from the National Retail Federation," reported the Times.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: @johnwcoxnww Email: john_cox@nww.comBlog RSS feed:

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