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Apple's hunt for a new retail chief continues

Remember when Apple fired retail head John Browett at the end of October? Well, his job is still open in the company, and as AllThingsD's John Paczkowski notes, Apple may be taking its time to replace Browett because they can't afford to make another mistake hiring a senior VP for this critical position.

The retail stores are a key to Apple's success; in the fourth quarter alone, the 390 worldwide Apple Stores generated an average of $6,050 per square foot. That's huge -- Tiffany & Company stores only earn about half that amount.

Paczkowski's article lists five candidates whose names have been bandied about, including Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts, Victor Luis of Coach, Jeanne Jackson of Nike, John Culver of Starbucks (China and Asia Pacific) and Paul Gainer, executive VP of Global Disney Store.

They're all definitely qualified, but it's entirely possible that one of three internal candidates would fit the bill much better. Steve Cano is Apple's manager of retail stores; Bob Bridger is the current VP for retail real estate and development; and Jerry McDougal is the existing VP of retail.

Many industry sources who talked with Paczkowski seem to think that Cano is the best Apple-internal candidate. He started as the manager of Apple's first Soho store, saw the Tokyo Ginza store through its opening, transferred to London to head international retail operations and is now head of all Apple Stores. Unlike Browett, he understands the culture at the stores.

The man Browett replaced, JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson, says that "I think Tim (Cook) will take his time with this. The internal team is very strong and capable of running well until he finds the right person."

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