Apple store cuts? Tech giant reportedly reducing working hours of staff and axing recent hires

line for iphone 4 in NYCApple has reportedly been making cuts to its retail workforce, many of them new employees fresh out of the store’s training program.

Apple fan site MacRumors said that in recent weeks it had been told of lay-offs from a number of Apple stores – particularly in the UK – though long-term cuts in working hours for part-time staff in the US and Canada have also been reported.

According to MacRumors, one particular Apple store in the UK dismissed all employees with less than six months of service, “including a group that had been hired only one month ago and had just completed their training program.”

A separate case reported to the fan site indicated that besides new workers being laid off, some long-term retail staff who’d recently been promoted had apparently been returned to their original job position and never saw any pay increase.

An unnamed source based in the UK also told MacRumors that several training groups had been dismissed in the last week alone, “all of whom were still within their probationary periods as new employees.”

As for Apple store employees in North America, working hours have reportedly been slashed for part-time staff. Employee vacations have also been cut for full-time staff in order to reduce reliance on part-time workers.

There appears to be no obvious reason for the reported cuts and lay-offs, which come just a couple of months after reports of some fairly hefty pay rises for store workers in a bid to boost what had been considered by many to be some rather light pay packets.

Any shake-up in its retail operations will be the work of John Browett, brought in by Apple in April to oversee its retail business. Browett had been working at Dixons, a major electronics chain in the UK. While there, he made some major cuts in order to streamline the business – but Apple stores? Aren’t they performing well?

And as MacRumors points out, if the lay-offs are for real, the timing seems a little bizarre. Next month the company is almost certain to unveil the next iteration of its iPhone, a device for which demand is likely to be huge; and then soon after that we’ll be in the holiday season. It looks like existing Apple store employees have a busy time ahead of them.

Some 20 million visits a month are paid to the tech giant’s retail stores, of which there are currently 373 in 13 countries.

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