Apple gets ready for first retail store in India; picks sites in Mumbai

Apple gets ready for first retail store in India; picks sites in Mumbai

 

New Delhi, May 8: Apple Inc has finalized a short list of locations for its first retail store in India, according to people familiar with the plans, as the company redoubles its efforts in the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market.
The iPhone giant has zeroed in on several upscale sites in Mumbai, and plans to make a final decision in the next few weeks, said the people, asking not to be named because the discussions are private. The vetted spots are comparable to iconic Apple locations on Fifth Avenue in New York, Regent Street in London or the Champs-Elysees in Paris, they said. Apple has been prohibited from opening its own stores in the country because it doesn’t meet local sourcing requirements, but it’s shifting manufacturing into India and is in talks with the government about its retail expansion.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company has struggled to establish itself in India where consumers have opted for less expensive Chinese brands such as Xiaomi and Vivo. But Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has vowed to improve in the fast-growing market, especially as Apple loses ground in China. Manufacturing in India will also allow the company to sidestep 20 per cent tariffs on imported phones, making its devices more competitive.
“India is a very important market in the long term,” Cook said after the company’s earnings report last week. “It’s a challenging market in the short term, but we’re learning a lot. We plan on going in there with sort of all of our might.”
Apple doesn’t break out its revenue from India since it’s such a minor part of the business. In the most recent quarter, the company generated 44 per cent of revenue from the Americas and 18 per cent from greater China. India is lumped in with the rest of Asia-Pacific, which altogether account for about 6 per cent.
Apple has tried in recent years to gain ground as India eclipsed China as the fastest-growing smartphone market in the world. One Apple veteran took over as country chief at the end of 2017, overhauling its strategy and replacing top sales executives. But with little sign of progress, a new country chief was named in November.
Still, Apple continues to flounder in India. Research firm Canalys estimates the company’s shipments fell by more than 75 per cent in the first quarter of 2019, giving it only about 1 per cent of the country’s smartphone market.
Now Apple appears to be doing the difficult — and expensive — work of building a foundation for its business. Foxconn Technology Group, its most important manufacturing partner, is running quality tests for the iPhone Xr series in India and plans to begin mass production at a facility in the suburbs of Chennai.