After enduring almost 18 months without a top executive, Apple’s retail store employees will finally have a boss next week when Angela Ahrendts arrives in Cupertino as Sr. VP Retail & On-Line Stores. That announcement today by CEO Tim Cook during a conference call headlined the stores’ financial results, primarily because nearly all of the retail store numbers were pushed off the schedule by extraordinary dividend and stock-split news. Ahrendts was hired last October but deferred her arrival at Apple because her current employer, Burberry, was at a critical point in its history. The company did announce retail revenues totaled $5.23 billion for Q2 2014, nearly equal to the same period of 2013 and fifth highest in history. But during his first financial conference call, CFO Luca Maestri omitted figures for retail profit, average revenue per store and all the other usual benchmarks. Instead, Cook made the only mention of retail stores during the call, saying the company intends to triple the number of stores in greater China over the next two years in response to very strong results in the region for the latest quarter. Ironically, in February 2010 then-Sr. VP retail Ron Johnson set a similar expansion goal, when he pledged to have 25 China stores within two years. However, actual expansion has been much slower—there are just 13 greater China stores now. Overall, Apple posted revenues of $45.6 billion, a record for the March quarter, and profits of $10.2 billion. The missing retail financial figures are routinely posted in filings made with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) one or two days after the results are announced. When the figures are posted, retail results will be updated here.
Apple is turning its world-wide retail store logos green—at least partially—to observe April 22nd as Earth Day, one day before the company is expected to announce that over 120 of its U.S. stores are now using only renewable energy, and on the same day the company announced retail stores will now recycle all Apple products. The initiatives are part of the company’s overall environmental strategy intended to reduce greenhouse gases and leave a smaller carbon footprint on the earth. The first green retail store logos were spotted in China, but tinted logo leaves soon began to appear as stores closed for the day in countries further west. In addition to the logo change, Apple retail store employees will wear green shirts and ID cards to observe the day. On a new Web page posted today, Apple’s VP of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson announced the recycling change at the stores, adding, “We believe we must be accountable for every Apple product at every stage of its use.” In an earlier interview with Wired, Jackson explained that the company’s corporate offices and data centers are using 94 percent renewable energy, and the retail stores are the next energy target. Details of that initiative are expected to be released within days. read more
The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld the issuance of a restraining order requested by Apple against a retail store employee who was fired for poor job performance, saying the lower court correctly determined the woman had a history of mental illness, and that she posed an immediate threat of violence to Apple store employees. However, the court said the terms of the restraining order were overly broad, and ordered the lower court to redefine the conditions to meet state law. The decision runs parallel to a lawsuit that Catherine Danforth has filed against Apple for violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), alleging Apple failed to provide accommodation for her disability, and retaliated against her by obtaining a restraining order against her. According to court documents, Danforth was hired at the Lenox Square (Geo.) store on August 12, 2011, “and began experiencing symptoms of her disability at work.” According to her lawsuit, that disability, “substantially limits several major life activities, including working, concentrating, thinking, and communicating, among others.” On July 10, 2012 store supervisors put her on “Documented Coaching” to improve her performance. But Danforth was fired on August 13, 2012 for “her failure to successfully meet the objectives and expectations of her position,” Apple wrote in a court filing. details
In the latest iteration of Apple’s employment Web page, the company has re-organized the retail store listings and revised individual position job descriptions. The main text of the page has also been revised, along with different photos and more white space, à la the iOS 7 redesign. The changes improve the organization and display of the job listings, but don’t seem to make any substantive changes to the job descriptions, duties or responsibilities. Apple did add one new position to the listings, and another listing has disappeared. The job listings remain in a two-column, hierarchical arrangement. However, the main column on the left is now arranged by job category instead of by individual job position. The new headings are leadership, sales, support and inventory. When you click on one of those categories, the specific job listings appear in the right column. The main page headline has been changed to the more simple phrase, “Work where extraordinary happens,” and there is a rotating set of four store hero photos at the top. The main page also now displays just two text blocks instead of four, giving a brighter appearance. details
A black construction barricade is usually quickly spotted by Apple retail store enthusiasts as an indication of a future location, but one store has evaded confirmation until just recently. Now insiders confirm that construction work for an Apple store has been underway for several months at The Promenade at Evergreen Walk (Conn.) shopping mall and will open soon. The mall is near I-84 northeast of Hartford (Conn.), and is designed as a New England village, with several separate buildings covering 375,000 square-feet. It has a relatively-few 60 retailers, including the state’s second-only L.L. Bean store. The new Apple store will fill in coverage between the existing Farmington (Conn.) and the Holyoke (Mass.) stores, about 43 miles apart. It will be the fifth store to open in the state. Insiders say the store will open this June.
There was continuous waiting line for six hours after the Zorlu Center (Istanbul) held its grand opening on Saturday, but visitors were happy to wait up to an hour to finally inspect the store’s long-mysterious design and get their hands on Apple’s products. The Foster + Partners design includes the most glass of any store in the chain, and relies heavily on the rectangular proportion of the glass panes for its design elements in the ceiling, floor and even shelving design. The overnight waiting line started at 9 p.m. Friday when Mustafa and Mert formed up with bicycle fencing placed at the mall’s boundary by security guards. By 2 a.m. the line had grown to just six people, and by 6 a.m. there were 18 in line. After the line was inside and onto the mall plaza at 7 a.m., adjacent to the four-sided glass “lantern” used to transfer light into the under-plaza store. By the time the store opened at 10 a.m., a line of 450 people snaked around the plaza’s garden and out towards the mall’s entrance. read more/photos
The architecture and full glory of the new Zorlu Center (Istanbul, Turkey) Apple retail store has been revealed, and it includes a huge white roof with the iconic Apple logo, visible from the heights of the surrounding apartment buildings. The compact, two-level store itself is entirely under the plaza, but is topped by a first-ever rectangular “lantern” composed of four single panes of glass and a white roof. Portions of the store are visible through the windows from the plaza level. The store’s two glass staircases are also visible through huge glass panes over the top of each stair run on the sides of the store. One staircase leads downward from the lower public space to the back-of-house spaces. The plaza level lantern (an architectural term) is surrounded by a water fountain constructed of black stone. The water is pumped over the edge of the fountain in an “infinity” effect. View photos of the amazing two-level store interior, and the official grand opening announcement. The store is the first in eastern Europe and in Turkey, and opens this Saturday at 10 a.m. [Click on the photo for a larger view.]
Blessed by being Apple’s first reseller of personal computers in 1976, but cursed by the proximity of five of Apple’s own retail stores, FirstTech Computers (Minneapolis) is closing down by month’s end, the latest in a string of resellers who could not compete. As reported by TwinCities.com, 75 employees at two locations will lose their jobs on March 29th. Since their first delivery of Apple II computers, FirstTech prospered and had the retail market to itself. But in August 2001 Apple opened a retail store at the Mall of America. It was the chain’s 4th store and, not coincidentally, was located near then-Sr. VP Ron Johnson’s home town of Edina (which hosted its own store, Southdale, in 2002). Since then, four more Apple stores have opened in the region, including the Uptown store just five blocks away. Like other resellers in the United States, FirstTech felt the pressure from Apple’s stores. It was often difficult to obtain sufficient products, product manager Fred Evans told TwinCities. FirstTech tried to stay relevant by offering a wider range of services than Apple, including setting up Windows computers. But now, after 37 years, FirstTech will close and become part of Apple’s continuing retail legend.
Defying the tradition of occupying a conspicuous space in an architecturally significant building, Apple will reportedly move the existing Pacific Centre (Vancouver) store into a larger, basement space that’s completely invisible from the outside. According to Retail-Insider, the new store will join several other high-profile retailers in a 48,000 square-foot expansion area known as 725 Granville that’s now under construction. The Web site’s sources originally said the store would be a “flagship,” but later clarified it will simply be one of the country’s largest Apple stores. The current store opened in May 2008 at the downtown mall, occupying 5,368 square-feet on the mall’s third level. The store is always busy and logged $75 million in revenues for 2013, Retail-Insider reported. That compares to an average $49 million per-store for the entire chain in 2013. The future store will be “substantially larger,” sources told Retail-Insider, and will be accessible from the existing mall and via an outside stairway. A floor plan of the expansion space shows 12 retail spaces, with none larger than about 6,000, which is not much larger than the current store. It’s not clear if Apple might occupy two of the proposed spaces. According to the story, the Apple store will open in fall 2015. details, video
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved a planning code variance for a single parcel of land on Union Square, effectively giving final approval for Apple to begin construction of its proposed high-profile store. The project will involve demolishing the current triangular Levi’s store, rebuilding the adjacent plaza and constructing a two-level glass and steel retail store on a corner parcel. Over the past 10 months several city committees and commissions raised and resolved issues about the store project, even including the potential number of birds killed by flying into the huge front glass windows of the store. Last month the Planning Commission deadlocked on approving amendments to the planning code that would only affect the Apple store parcel, putting the store’s approval in the hands of city supervisors. read more…
A Florida man has filed a series of class-action lawsuits against 10 retailers along the upscale Lincoln Road (Miami) shopping street, saying that the stores’ point-of-sale systems are inaccessible by those who are legally blind and are in violation of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Among the identical lawsuits is one filed against Apple for the lack of accessibility at its Lincoln Road (Fla.) store. Plaintiff David New is a accessibility rights activist, and says he visited the Apple store to make a purchase with a debit card. However, he was “unable to make the purchase independently because, at the time of the visit, Defendant’s POS Device was not fully accessible to, and independently usable by, blind people.” Specifically, a customer must enter a PIN number to authorize a debit card payment, but a blind person cannot see “the numerical references displayed on the keypad of the POS Device,” the lawsuit states. In the lawsuit, New asks to represent others who are “similarly situated,” and demands that the retailers take “all necessary steps” to come into compliance with the ADA. details
The world’s most valuable company isn’t worried that employees might be stealing Apple gear from their retail stores, and a security bag check that is the subject of a employee lawsuit is used inconsistently “at best.” What’s more, the company hasn’t audited the bag check program to determine if it’s effective at reducing employee theft, and considers loss prevention to be a low priority endeavor. That picture was painted by an employee designated by Apple to provide expert testimony in depositions taken earlier this year. The testimony also provided previously-secret insights into the operation of the stores, including the percentage of part-time U.S. employees and the chain’s employee turn-over rate. The new information comes from Carol Monkowski, Sr. Director of Store Operations, who appeared as Apple’s designated witness for the topics covered by the lawsuit. She was deposed by the plaintiffs’ lawyers on January 8th in San Jose (Calif.) and a transcript of her testimony has been filed with the court. The lawsuit contends that all store employees are required to undergo a bag check every time he/she leaves the store, and while they are off-the-clock. It also claims employees must frequently wait in long waiting lines for the bag check and are entitled to substantial back pay for the uncompensated time. The lawsuit is still in the discovery phase, and both sides are taking depositions and trading documents. read more…
Behind the neon lights, casinos and grand hotels of the Las Vegas (Nev.) Strip, there are communities of people who want to buy Apple products and need service. And there are mall developers in the area who believe they have the perfect property to host an Apple retail store, and who may be willing to relocate existing tenants to create the 5,000 square-feet of needed space. According to Racked.com Web site, one of those developers is The District at Green Valley Mall, along I-215 in Henderson (Nev.), about nine miles south of The Strip. According to Racked, a local restaurant owner has proposed a weekly farmers’ market at the mall, and submitted a permit application to the city. Among the supporting documents for the parking lot market was a lease plan for the mall showing “Apple – proposed” on a large space. The wording suggests that no lease has been signed, and perhaps that negotiations are not even in-progress. But if the proposal works out, it would be the fourth store in the metro Las Vegas area—two stores are within walking distance of the city’s 39 million annual tourists, and the third is a mile south to serve permanent residents. This potential store would be eight miles further away, providing an even larger local Apple presence. No timeline is known for project or for when the store might open.
In an unprecedented move, Apple is offering a a $25 discount on the price of the Apple TV for the next six days at its retail and on-line stores, payable in the form of an iTunes Gift Card. It’s the first time the company has offered a non-seasonal discount on a current product, and seems intended to clear out channel inventory ahead of the introduction of a new product, possibly the long-rumored Apple set-top box. The discount was posted today, simultaneous with the company’s stockholders’ meeting in Cupertino. During that meeting, CEO Tim Cook said sales of Apple TV and associated content totaled $1 billion during fiscal 2013. “It’s a little hard to call it a hobby any more,” he told attendees. Apple discounts its products only twice yearly: in late-summer for Back to School, lately a gift card with a computer purchase, and on Black Friday (U.S.), with cash discounts on select Apple and third-party products. Similar one-day holiday discounts are available outside the United States. Apple offers year-round cash discounts on computers, displays and software for K-12 and higher education faculty, staff, students and parents. The current Apple TV deal has some terms (pdf), including that it runs from February 28th through March 5th, is available only through the on-line and U.S. retail stores, and that the buyer “may decline” the gift card. promo screenshot
A distinctive glass cube has appeared in a rendering for the future The Bloc mixed-used complex in Los Angeles, billed as the new center of the downtown area. The development will revise the layout and architecture of the existing hotel and office towers, and Macy’s department store along 7th Street between Flower and Hope Streets. The cube in the rendering—which is oddly proportioned—is remarkable for its similarity to the iconic Fifth Avenue (NYC) Apple retail store, and seems to lead to an underground space. Inside, there is a suspended, glowing white circle—not an Apple logo. But lest hopes be raised, The Bloc’s official Web page shows an entirely different architecture: a sunken plaza, walkways and pools. Instead of a glass cube, there’s a tall, very red tower emblazoned with “Macy’s” in white letters. The cube rendering was prepared by EPT Design, whose Web page says it’s working with One Eleven Design to “re-imagine four level of this intriguing urban space.” The rendering is likely speculative, and so doesn’t represent the final design for the plaza, or predict that an Apple retail store will open at the site. Macy’s rendering