Tim Cook likely to welcome customers at Apple’s first store in Mumbai

The company's senior vice president for retail Deirdre O'Brien told reporters that a lot of attention has been given to Apple's key beliefs of sustainability and inclusivity, and pointed out that the 100-strong team which will be on the floor will be speaking 18 Indian languages.

Mumbai: Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook is likely to welcome customers to the iPhone maker’s first store in India, which is scheduled to open at the BKC business district on Tuesday, company executives said on Monday.

The store is being launched as the company marks 25 years in the country.

Store openings for the iconic brand world over have witnessed fans queuing up to become the first customer, and it is to be seen how the people of Mumbai welcome the store on a working day.

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On the eve of opening for customers, a media preview was held at the store which is spread over a 20,000 square feet area. The Mumbai store opening will be followed by the launch of a similar facility in New Delhi’s Saket on April 20. According to reports, Mr Cook will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“India has such a beautiful culture and an incredible energy, and we’re excited to build on our long-standing history — supporting our customers, investing in local communities, and working together to build a better future with innovations that serve humanity,” Mr Cook said in a statement.

The company’s senior vice president for retail Deirdre O’Brien told reporters that a lot of attention has been given to Apple’s key beliefs of sustainability and inclusivity, and pointed out that the 100-strong team which will be on the floor will be speaking 18 Indian languages.

The company employs 2,500 people in the country and has indirectly helped create 10 lakh jobs through its app ecosystem, she said.

The two-storey store occupies prime real estate at the corner of a sprawling mall which also houses brands like Diesel, Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Swarovski.

While a lot of features at the store are the same as other Apple stores across the world, the company seems to have paid attention to ‘Indianise’ the facility by including local influences, starting with the much talked about ‘kaali-peeli‘ theme on the facade borrowed from the black and yellow taxis on the city roads.

O’Brien said the store has an 8-metre tall ceiling if one were to include the upper floor, and has a specially made staircase leading to the upper floor that has 14-metre long, single-piece glass walls on either side.

For the walls inside the store, the company has specially procured stone from Rajasthan, and 4.5 lakh pieces of timber adorn the ceiling walls, she said.

The store has products, merchandise and services like repairing the gadgets available for customers, executives said, adding that the customers will be able to check out the products and can also educate themselves on how to use them optimally.

Like in any other store, there are long wooden desks on which the products have been kept, which also include specially built sensors that trigger the opening of switches.

Apple’s maiden retail store in the country has been a subject of great speculation since at least 2019 when Indian policymakers warmed up to the idea of welcoming foreign direct investment in single-brand retail. The permissions to allow such stores have come with riders like mandates on local sourcing in the final finished goods.

Earlier, the Cupertino, US-based tech major was reportedly looking at a space in central Mumbai before narrowing down on the current location owned by a company led by the richest Indian Mukesh Ambani, which has also been a distributor of Apple’s products for some time.

The company has leased out the space in Jio World Drive mall for 11 years and has been successful in negotiating for barring 22 competing brands, including Amazon, Facebook, Google LG, Microsoft, Sony and others, from occupying space or advertising in close vicinity.

The launch of the store in the financial capital on Tuesday will be followed by the opening of a similar store in New Delhi’s Saket two days later. As per reports, the company will be paying ₹ 42 lahks per month as a rental for the store, and will also share a part of the revenues with the space owner.

The store is inspired by the iconic kaali-peeli taxis which have been a regular feature on the city roads and will count on luxe brands like Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Swarovski as its neighbours.

At present, Apple has a 3 per cent share in the highly competitive Indian smartphone market which is ruled by Chinese and South Korean brands. Lately, the company has upped its reliance on manufacturing in India, which is increasingly being seen as an alternative for China ever since the supply chain disruptions during the Covid pandemic.

Last week, the company revealed its facade with the “Hello Mumbai” greeting.

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