Apple has confirmed that it will open its first retail store in Southeast Asia, located in Singapore, as the U.S. phone maker begins to increase its efforts in the region’s fast-growing smartphone market.
The company quietly began hiring for retail staff in Singapore last week — as Tech In Asia first reported — and today Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s Senior Vice President for Retail and Online Stores, confirmed that an Apple Store is indeed coming.
“We have more than 900 incredible employees working in our Singapore contact center and are thrilled to begin hiring the team that will open our first Apple Store in Singapore — an incredible international city and shopping destination,” Ahrendts said in a statement sent to TechCrunch. “We can’t wait to deliver the service, education and entertainment that is loved by Apple customers around the world.”
In addition, Reuters reports that the store, and the company’s entire operations in Singapore, will be powered by renewable energy in a move that mirrors initiatives in the U.S., Europe and, most recently, China.
Apple hasn’t confirmed when the store will launch or where it will be located, although there’s been speculation that the firm has already secured retail space at Knightsbridge, in the city-state’s much-sought-after Orchard Road shopping hotspot. That’s according to a note from the existing tenants who claim they are vacating to make space for Apple’s store.
Apple currently uses a mix of licensed third-party retail partners, carriers and its online store for sales in Southeast Asia. Singapore is a country that is among the first wave of launches for new Apple products and therefore a logical first step for expanding the company’s retail footprint. It isn’t clear whether the company is actively planning to introduce its own stores in other parts of Southeast Asia, which is already a focal point for Samsung and smartphone makers from China, such as Xiaomi and OnePlus.
Analyst firm IDC reported this summer that sales of smartphones across Southeast Asia, which counts a cumulative population of over 500 million, grew by 66 percent year-on-year to reach 24 million units between April and June. While that volume is far below China or the U.S., the regional market in Southeast Asia is far from saturated — unlike China and the West — and that spells opportunity.
Exact marketshare for Apple in Southeast Asia isn’t clear but, despite mid- and low-end devices accounting for the bulk of sales in emerging markets and its lack of an own-retail presence, the U.S. company is largely seen as a premium brand by consumers across the region.