Amsterdam braced for Apple store invasion

Are three new outlets a bridge too far?

The good burghers of Amsterdam will next month be able to avail themselves of no fewer than three Mac stores - a vast improvement on the one tiny outlet which served the city just a year ago. Two of the new stores will be similar to those of the chain of US Apple-owned stores.

So, has Apple gone mad? Well, not really. The three stores are owned not by the manufacturer, but by independent Mac dealers.

Mac Support will open a Mac Store just outside Central Station, while DeNieuwsteMacWinkel (The Newest Mac Shop) has revamped a large stationers store (pictures here) at Weteringschans, - a brief stroll from the Paradiso Club. The biggest store, owned by Cornerstone Holding, will be located near Dam Square, right in the heart of the city. At four floors, it will be one of the largest Apple stores in Europe.

Both Mac Support and Cornerstone have a sort of franchise agreement with Apple. Their retail stores will have a similar look and feel. Apple has approached several other dealers in the Netherlands to open up comparable Apple Centres. Rotterdam already has one.

Frans Schippers of DeNieuwsteMacWinkel didn’t want to subscribe to the Apple Centre formula. "We have our own ideas about retail. We like to sell solutions, rather than nice looking machines," he says. "When you have to abide by Apple’s rules, you’re not allowed to sell Sony hardware for instance."

Schippers and others are afraid that Amsterdam isn’t large enough to host three big Apple stores. New York City has only one, as do Los Angeles and San Francisco.

It is no secret that Apple wants to open retail stores in key western European cities. In the UK, the company will open a giant flagship store later this year on London’s Regent Street costing around £1.5 million a year in rent.

In many other European countries, however, Apple doesn’t have the resources to maintain retail stores itself. There, independent Mac dealers or franchise holders will have to bear the full risk. ®