updated 11:03 am EDT, Tue March 26, 2013
Apple aiming to deepen Indian footprint
Apple is planning to triple the number of resellers in India to about 200 by 2015, say three franchisee sources reached by the Times of India. The people say Apple has asked them to scale up operations to match the company's aggressive expansion plans. On top of an increased number of resellers, Apple is also reportedly looking at growing its presence in regular, multi-brand stores.
Some of the plans were allegedly mentioned last month, when Hugeues Asseman -- Apple's VP of sales for Europe, the Middle-East, India, and Africa -- visited Mumbai. There he is said to have met with both trade partners and franchise owners, hoping to evaluate Apple's business in India and outline its expansion goals. An Apple spokesman, Alan Hely, has refused to comment.
The interest in India is thought to be linked to a sudden surge in iPhone and iPad sales. Both devices are now available via equated monthly installment (EMI) payments, making them more practical to buy. Apple has also conceded some sales to the "mom-and-pop" style of electronics stores that are commonplace in India.
Apple has yet to launch any of its first-party stores in the country, owing to rules which would require it to source at least 30 percent of goods from local vendors, when none of its products are made in India. On top of pushing for a greater number of reseller outlets, Apple is also said to be asking for upgrades to meet global layout specifications, even going to the extent of sending suppliers out to help. That should mean refitting stores to use elements such as more glass; to offset the cost, Apple is said to be planning to reimburse each reseller over the course of a year.
One reseller chain, Reliance Retail, has confirmed it is already working on expanding. "After consolidating our operations, we are currently looking at several properties for Apple stores. The existing stores and newer ones will be remodeled with newer fixtures that Apple uses in some of its best stores internationally to provide a far superior consumer experience," says Reliance CEO Brian Bade. He adds that the company is aiming at spaces between 800 and 2,000 square feet, and that "Apple has expansion plans in India, but it is not possible for me to comment on them."