Apple falls far from our CBD
Apple has two city stores in Sydney but is yet to find a suitable flagship store in Melbourne's CBD. Photo: Kate Geraghty
APPLE'S long search for a location for a marquee Melbourne store is foundering.
The technology giant has been unsuccessfully looking for a shop site in the central city for five years, but its requirements are so onerous few buildings match.
Industry sources say the iconic brand has rejected three likely options, leaving few other choices.
Apple has three Melbourne stores, but they are based in Chadstone, Doncaster and Southland shopping centres.
It has no central city shop like its flagship Sydney locations, one in George Street and the other at Bondi Junction.
The company requires at least 1500 to 3000 square metres of floor space for its purpose-built shop fitout.
Apple's integrated selling approach with roving sales staff and stands displaying the latest technology must-haves, requires a minimum of 400 sq m of internal space free of any columns.
It also wants 60 feet of premium street frontage onto a short stretch of Collins Street between Elizabeth and Swanston streets, although it has recently become more flexible on location.
''These things are not negotiable,'' one industry source said.
So far the company has rejected potential shop suitors at 233 and 271 Collins Street, as well as the Australia on Collins building.
Apple typically spends between $10 million and $15 million fitting out a marquee store, with landlords expected to contribute up to $4 million.
Retrofitting Australia on Collins would have cost the building's owner up to $25 million, a source said.
''We've got the feeling Melbourne is too hard for them and they're focusing on Asian expansion. We may not get a flagship store for some time,'' the source said.
Another source said the building was still under consideration.
A mooted leasing deal with new Emporium redevelopment, which has already attracted a string of high-profile luxury brands, also appears unlikely because it won't provide a street front store.
The $1.16 billion Lonsdale Street Emporium opens next year with tenants Uniqlo, Top Shop/Top Man, sass & bide, Salvatore Ferragamo, Scanlan & Theodore and Zimmerman. ''A lot of luxury brands like being associated with Apple,'' said CBRE's associate director of retail Max Cookes.
Apple's failure to find a suitable central city site will have limited impact because of its re-seller network and won't dent the US giant's vast operating profits.
But ''you would assume they're missing a big market down here,'' one industry insider said.
''We have made no announcement with regard to future Apple retail stores in Australia,'' was all an Apple spokesman would say.