First Apple Store here may open in November

When The Straits Times visited the construction site at Knightsbridge mall (left) yesterday, the shop's interior was covered by construction canvas. However, tall glass structures were already in place, hinting at Apple's signature glass facade seen
When The Straits Times visited the construction site at Knightsbridge mall (left) yesterday, the shop's interior was covered by construction canvas. However, tall glass structures were already in place, hinting at Apple's signature glass facade seen in its flagship stores overseas.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The store at Knightsbridge in Orchard will likely span five storefronts and four storeys

South-east Asia's first Apple Store could open in Orchard Road in November, in time for the Christmas season.

The store, which is expected to be at Knightsbridge mall in Orchard Road, will probably span about five storefronts. An information board at the construction site shows an expected completion date of Oct 31.

The store could potentially take up four floors as works are being done in the basement and on the first to third storeys.

When The Straits Times visited the construction site yesterday, the shop's interior was covered by construction canvas.

However, tall glass structures were already in place, hinting at Apple's signature glass facade seen in its flagship stores overseas.

News of an Apple Store here first broke last October, when a former tenant, fitness club Pure Fitness, sent a letter to its members informing them of its closure to make room for the store.

The US tech giant declined to confirm the store's opening date and how many people it was hiring. Apple's website currently lists 14 job positions, ranging from Store Leader to Apple "Genius".

Construction work began in May, five months after Knightsbridge tenants, including Pure Fitness, watch retailer Dickson Watch & Jewellery, and fashion stores Tommy Hilfiger, Topshop/Topman and Brooks Brothers, handed the space back to the landlord.

Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), CIMB Bank and The Hour Glass, which will remain at the mall, may benefit from the extra shoppers that the Apple Store will bring in. "Customers may have to queue at the Apple store," said A&F sales assistant Si Xu Vongsuvanish, 20. "They may come and take a look here first as they wait."

Analysts say the opening of the Apple Store could affect authorised Apple resellers, such as EpiCentre, iStudio and Nubox.

"A challenge for the resellers would be the stock availability as they will fall further down in the pecking order, especially during launch time," said IDC research manager Kiranjeet Kaur.

But she points out that resellers have continued to exist side by side with Apple Stores in other countries.

Those with stores outside of Orchard can benefit from consumers who prefer a shop closer to where they live.

While consumers who The Straits Times spoke to were eager to experience the customer service Apple prides itself on, they noted that resellers would offer special deals on Apple products to compete on price.

Mr Cris Duy Tran, a consulting analyst for digital transformation at Frost & Sullivan, said: "Apple fans know that the official store won't give discounts until the very end of their products' lifetime."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2016, with the headline 'First Apple Store here may open in November'. Print Edition | Subscribe