Apple's search for a replacement, handled by recruiters Egon Zehnder International, has gone slowly, people familiar with the matter said, and the company has yet to settle on a finalist after interviewing several external candidates. Among those interviewed but rejected as a poor fit were wireless and telecommunications-industry executives, one such person said. A CEO of a privately held retailer in France spurned Apple's overtures, believing it would be hard to change Apple's culture as an outsider, another person said.
A source says that Apple is looking outside the company because it doesn't consider internal candidates to be an option. CEO Tim Cook is currently handling the retail responsibilities following the firing of John Browett who held the position for just six months. Browett had shifted Apple's retail stores to focus on sales and cost cutting and away from customer service. His tenure left Apple with upset employees and a decline in customer satisfaction.
Things have improved since Browett's departure and the focus of Apple Stores has returned to customer service. Reportedly, Apple held a summit for retail store leaders where CEO Tim Cook spoke for three hours. Cook was relatively satisfied with the way Macs and iPads were selling through retail stores, but noted that 80% of iPhones are bought outside of the stores. The company plans to introduce several promotions and incentives to increase sales in the future.