(Reuters) - Apple Inc is hiring Dixons chief executive John Browett, who drove a recent turnaround at the UK electricals retailer, to lead the iPad maker's retail expansion.
Browett, who has been the boss at Dixons since 2007, was previously chief executive of Tesco PLC's successful online shopping site.
At Apple, which last week posted quarterly results ahead of market expectations, Browett will be responsible for the company's retail strategy and the expansion of its stores around the world from the current total of around 300.
Our retail stores are all about customer service and John shares that commitment like no one else we've met, said Apple CEO Tim Cook, whom Browett will report to.
Browett's appointment has sparked speculation in some quarters that Apple may be planning a push in its retail operations in Europe, where his expertise is greatest.
In October Best Buy abandoned plans for a chain of European megastores, while Kesa Electricals, Europe's No. 3 player, effectively paid a bidder to take loss-making British chain Comet off its hands.
Both companies, as well as Home Retail's Argos business, have struggled to compete with Dixons in the UK as Browett revamped stores focused on more popular megastores and improved product ranges with a mantra of improving the shopping trip for customers.
Shares in Dixons Retail, Europe's second biggest electrical goods retailer and owner of the Currys and PC World chains in Britain, fell 4.7 percent on Tuesday after it said Browett would quit in April to join the world's leading smartphone maker, as senior vice-president of retail, based in California.
Dixons, which also runs Elkjop in Nordic countries, UniEuro in Italy and Kotsovolos in Greece, said Browett will be succeeded by Sebastian James, its operations director and a former strategy director at mother and baby products retailer Mothercare.
Dixons shares, which had increased by more than half over the last month after the well received Christmas trading update, were down 0.73 pence at 14.48 pence at 1149 GMT, valuing the business at about 528 million pounds ($827.96 million).
Shareholders in the UK group may take comfort that the appointment of James, who was instrumental in executing much of Dixons' turnaround plan.
We understand that the board had already carried out external bench-marking as part of its succession plans, and had decided that internal candidates would provide the best solution, said Investec analyst David Jeary.
($1 = 0.6377 British pounds)