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Apple stores in India? iPhone maker says its plans will 'take some time'

For Apple, India is an important market and the company has been looking for easier norms to set up fully-owned stores like in other parts of the world

Nivedita Mookerji  |  New Delhi 

A man at the Apple store on 5th Avenue in New York. The California-based company has struggled to establish itself in India where consumers have opted for less expensive Chinese brands such as Xiaomi and Vivo 	Photo: Reuters
A man at the Apple store on 5th Avenue in New York. The California-based company has struggled to establish itself in India where consumers have opted for less expensive Chinese brands such as Xiaomi and Vivo Photo: Reuters

A day after the Cabinet eased the foreign investment norms for single-brand retail, in a statement said it would take the company some time to get its plans underway, without elaborating on the timeframe.

The company, which hasn’t been able to set up fully-owned signature stores in the country due to the mandatory 30 per cent local sourcing norm in the policy, said it was looking forward to “one day welcoming customers to India’s first retail store”.

For Apple, whose products are made by contract manufacturers such as Foxconn and Wistron, India is a significant market. Though its share in the country’s smartphone segment is not high at present, the American tech major sees India as a potential large market. In that backdrop, analysts believe the latest policy relaxation would help set up stores in India, in a bid to come closer to the customers.

“We love our customers in India and we’re eager to serve them online and in-store with the same experience and care that Apple customers around the world enjoy,” Apple’s statement said. “We appreciate the support and hard work by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team to make this possible and we look forward to one day welcoming customers to India’s first Apple retail store.” The iPhone maker said “we’ll have more to announce at a future date”.

With easier sourcing norms in place, the company may set up online stores before establishing mega outlets, sources said. The Cabinet on Wednesday relaxed the rules for in line with the Budget announcements on FDI changes.

While 30 per cent local sourcing remains a mandatory condition for single-brand retail, the Centre has agreed to a long-drawn demand to make things easier for foreign retailers. With the change, foreign retailers’ India buy for exports will be factored in to meet the 30 per cent domestic sourcing norm.

Firms in the single-brand space can also start online retailing without opening brick and mortar stores first, something that was not allowed earlier. While 100 per cent FDI is allowed in single-brand retail, whenever the foreign investment exceeds 51 per cent, mandatory local sourcing norm kicks in.

First Published: Thu, August 29 2019. 11:41 IST
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