Reseller Next Byte has scrapped plans to open its 17th Apple store at Westfield shopping centre in Bondi Junction. The chain claims to have cold feet after a lengthy planning process and a kafuffle over local competition.
The decision came after the shop opening had been delayed from early December. At that time, Next Byte director Adam Steinhardt said it was taking longer than expected to meet Westfield’s stringent planning standards.
The decision to pull out was more about the prospective value of the shop than the challenge of meeting the planning guidelines, he said. "Westfield never caused a problem. They are a very professional organisation."
But Steinhardt yesterday revealed that the company had also discovered more competitors in the area, which he claimed hadn’t been disclosed by Apple.
While Next Byte had understood Apple Centre Taylor Square to be the closest competitor to the proposed Bondi location, Steinhardt said an Apple accredited service provider, understood to be the Coogee-headquartered Mac Centre, had been an unexpected local player.
"Apple aren’t doing a very good job of controlling their channel," he said.
Acknowledging the misunderstanding, Apple marketing director Arno Lenior said Apple’s channel management team were reviewing the situation. But he defended Apple’s management of its geographic and vertical market coverage.
Apple’s distributors KH Distribution and IT Wholesale administer the addition of resellers to the Apple Solutions Reseller program through Apple. "Occasionally that process isn’t 100 per cent smooth, but 99 per cent of the time it is," Lenior said.
While keen to achieve market coverage, Lenior insisted it wasn’t in Apple’s interests for resellers to compete with each other. The vendor was committed to protecting brands such as Apple Centre, he said. "We recognise it’s a major investment."
But Apple claims that several other resellers are eyeing off the opportunities in the Bondi area. It’s also on the lookout for a reseller interested in opening in the Sydney CBD, possibly Pitt Street, Lenior said.
The considerable investment required to open an Apple shop in high-volume areas such as Bondi was a tough decision in a volatile market, said Steinhardt. While the vendor was keen for resellers to go into prime retail locations, it wasn’t Apple’s money being spent, he added.
"From our perspective, growth this year will come from consolidation," he added.
In other Apple news, the vendor has appointed a new director of sales for the consumer sales segment, corporate and government. Gemma Noakes joined the vendor in late December. Lenior said Apple’s core channel management component hadn’t changed with the addition of the new role.