One of the companies slated to form a new Apple retail conglomerate has dropped out of the project, deciding to continue trading as an independent reseller rather than listing on the ASX.
Next Byte, one of the seven companies that released plans to form a new retail entity last month, has announced it will not participate in the merger.
The company's directors, Adam Steinhardt, Tim Kleemann and Crawford Giles, decided it would be in Next Byte's best interests to remain independent.
"Ultimately, Next Byte has been really successful by doing things in a certain way - as a small business - that is our value," Steinhardt told ARN. "We are a dynamic, fired-up reseller who wants to change the world and we feel we are better equipped to do that as a smaller company. The venture is still going ahead and it will be great for the marketplace, but we like the idea of changing the world in our own way."Next Byte began five years ago in Adelaide and now runs stores across the country, recently opening its seventh venture in Melbourne. While the company initially saw the merger as a "natural progression" in Next Byte's evolution, Steinhardt said the potential for making money did not make up for losing the way the company did business.
"As owners, we were expected to cash in our chips, and we are not prepared to do that," he said. "We analysed ourselves as people and found we were becoming corporate warriors - spending our time locked away in big buildings in suits.
That's not us. We were selling our souls to a certain extent."Steinhardt added that the company stood to make more than $20 million from listing on the ASX, but ultimately it was a question of lifestyle.
"Money isn't everything. Our business is everything - and we have creative inspiring staff which is very valuable. The stock market is not a guarantee of making money. It is a volatile place."The remaining six companies - Choice Connections, Design Wyse, GM Computer, Mac's Place, Manning Computers and Status Graph - will continue with the merge, although the companies have yet to announce a date for the ASX float.
Apple's channel manager, Kevin McElduff, described the retail venture as "a real vote of confidence in Apple's business", which would be able to reduce costs by streamlining operations as well as taking advantage of the economies of scale.
"It is funny community; on the one hand they are all fierce competitors but at the same time they are all mates," he said. "They all face the same challenges and that is the uniting factor."Meanwhile, the companies are each pursuing retail initiatives, with a plan to expand into retail in shopping centres. A trial kiosk-style store is slated to begin in the new Westfield Shoppingtown in Burwood next month.
Next Byte's Melbourne store is also generating record sales. The company will renovate its existing outlets and plans to open more such stores.
"There are a lot of areas that are definitely under serviced and now that we have finished the Melbourne store, we really know how to build them."