Apple set to open up first store in Southeast Asia

APPLE is expected to open the doors to its long-awaited first Southeast Asian store in Singapore this month, according to reports.

The shop is expected to open at the Knightsbridge mall in Orchard Road, CNBC has reported.

The store’s opening has been shrouded in secrecy and plagued by construction-related problems, including conflicts with neighboring hotel – the Grand Park Orchard – over logistical and infrastructure issues.

CNBC said it visited the site on April 27 and a worker claimed the store would open on May 22.

The Manpower Ministry also issued a stop-work order to a contractor, interior fit-out specialist Legend Interiors, at the store’s worksite last October.

The order was lifted on Nov 16, with the ministry saying in a statement to CNBC it was issued “for unsafe conditions relating to work at height, traffic management, scaffolding, electrical installation and lifting operations that were observed during an inspection at the worksite”.

Apple’s head of corporate communications for Southeast Asia and India, Katrina Tran, told CNBC there were no delays or friction with the project and that it was “proceeding as planned” – adding Apple has never given a store opening date.

This week Apple reported a surprise fall in iPhone sales for its second quarter. Analysts believe the fall may be because customers are holding back purchases in anticipation of the 10th anniversary edition.

Apple sold 50.76 million iPhones in its fiscal second quarter ended April 1, down from 51.19 million a year earlier.

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“There is a general softening in phone demand to contend with as well as expectations of a big upgrade, all of which softens the blow of this quarter’s miss,” said James McQuivey, a Forrester Research analyst, said.

“If we see Apple downplaying expectations before the next upgrade cycle, it might mean the company isn’t confident it will beat those expectations.”

Video by Sharyl Kaur