Big Apple store coming to Wellington

CLAIRE ROGERS
Last updated 07:16 10/10/2011
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REUTERS
HOT PROPERTY: Rennaissance computing is to open a large Apple concept store in Kent Tce, Wellington.

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A massive Apple concept store is to open in Wellington, focusing on high-end technology for the city's Apple fans.

NZX-listed Renaissance will open a large Apple concept store on Wellington's Kent Tce as part of a major rebranding exercise .

The company would close its Vivian St store in Wellington and open a new, 500 square metre, Yoobee store below Natcoll on Kent Tce before Christmas, to be modelled on the new Yoobee outlet in the Auckland Britomart complex.

Chief executive Richard Webb said 12 of its 13 variously named divisions, including tertiary digital design institution Natcoll, would be rebranded as Yoobee by mid-next year.

Its distribution business, which faced shrinking margins and last year lost the sole rights to distribute Apple products in New Zealand, would continue to be called Renaissance, partly to keep some distance between the many electronics retailers it supplies and its Yoobee retail stores, Webb said.

The Britomart store had a perforated steel exterior that was back-lit at night, Webb said.

The black interior with roughly-hewn, recycled timber tables was a nod to New Zealand's heritage and so radically different to Apple's trademark white, minimalist look that the electronics giant sent photographers from California to capture it on film, Webb said.

The Yoobee stores would focus on selling Apple products and high-end complementary kit, such as photography equipment, and be a hub for creativity.

"We'll integrate everything and help you to use it.

"When you re-skill you tend to re-tool. Why not do it all in one location?"

More than 6000 people have joined the Yoobee "community", Webb said, and would receive invites and discounts for creatively focused events at retail outlets, such as courses on animation and film-making and social media conferences.

The Government last week announced Gen-i and Christchurch's Cyclone Computers would supply departments with Apple hardware under all-of- government computer contracts, but Webb said he was confident Yoobee could still secure its own contract. Yoobee already supplied and supported Apple laptops for teachers in New Zealand, "and 85 per cent of all Apple [servicing] work is done by Yoobee".

The company was also applying to take four of its Natcoll courses to Australia's Whitehouse Institute of Design, and planned to sell products online to students of the institute "to put our toe in the water there".

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It had investigated bringing in tablet computers, customising Android or Windows software for them and branding them as its own, but had decided the software was not ready to take on Apple's.

Yoobee instead hoped to carve out a niche developing smartphone and tablet applications for small to medium-sized businesses, Webb said.

The company's headcount has fallen from about 400 to fewer than 300 in the past 12 months. It has warned of a $4.1 million pre-tax loss for the year ending September, due to the Canterbury earthquakes and the squeeze on product margins.

- The Dominion Post

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