Last week I reported that there was a movement afoot in Amsterdam forcing Apple authorized resellers to change their names
from "Apple Centre" to "Apple Premium Reseller" and how it may be a sign that Apple is planning to open their own line of Apple Stores in the area and essentially compete with their own channel. It appears that Apple's global assault on retail is larger than just the Netherlands.
According to the Apple Premium Reseller Guide 2006 recently sent by Pascal Cagni (Vice President of Apple Europe) to all Apple Centres in Europe, the new "Premium Reseller" status is only being offered to retailers that "satisfy the important expectations of the customers." From the document (computer translated):
In 2006 and the years that will come, the mission of Apple will be able to be synthesized in three words key: quality, simplicity and innovation.
Thanks to these values, Apple is one of the most dynamic and appreciated brands in the world. From San Francisco to Paris to Tokyo, our customers want to find these values in all the aspects of the brand, from the design of the products to the customer service.
(Because of) these high expectations of the customers, Apple has created the Apple Premium Reseller Program in order to identify and to promote the retailers who hold faith to the promises of the brand and guarantee the customers - old and new - a qualitatively impeccable service.
The program replaces and improves on the previous the Apple Center Program, and adds new advantages, optimized modality of communication, marketing initiatives and support. We invite to all the retailers to join who can satisfy the important expectations of the customers in terms of formulation of the store, merchandising and services.
It seems pretty evident that Apple is cleaning up their European retail channel (not unlike what they did in the U.S. in 1998
and the U.K. in 1999
) in preparation to enter those markets with an extension of their retail stores that are gaining popularity in the United States.