Apple's deals with some European retailers are under threat, following the company's decision to stop supplying five major US chains.
It has stopped supplying Best Buy, Circuit City, Computer City, Office Max and Sears. The move comes as Apple follows through its promise to sell only through superstores that are committed to the Macintosh platform - although some analysts claim the cuts were forced on Apple and are symptomatic of its efforts to cut costs.
The new sales model was designed by interim chief executive Steve Jobs to return Apple to sustained profitability. CompUSA is the only US chain that will carry Macs, following its agreement to set up dedicated 'stores-within-stores', and sources claimed Apple will follow the same path in Europe.
'VNU Newswire' revealed last April that Jobs planned to truncate its retail channel as part of a 12-point plan to resurrect Apple from its financial stupor. ?We only want resellers who are committed to selling Apple,? he said.
CompUSA has made a point in recent weeks of publicising ?the great sales? from its Apple store-within-a-store idea.
But Best Buy pre-empted Apple?s announcement last week, when it claimed it decided to drop Apple because Mac sales accounted for less than 0.5 per cent of its hardware sales. Best Buy said it wants to be more consumer driven than Apple, which is concentrating on education and publishing.
Computer City said it has an agreement with CompUSA not to sell Apple.
Mitch Manditch, senior vice president of Apple Americas, said: ?We set out on a national level to create a full selection of Apple hardware, software and peripherals all in one place. This does not represent a retreat from retail but instead a redefinition of what the retail buying experience will be for our customers.?
The terms of the CompUSA deal were not disclosed. Analysts said Apple?s slimmer retail channel could prove more cost effective to the vendor and that Internet based sales, which Apple introduced in November, may also take customers out of retail stores. Apple will continue to sell over the Internet, through Apple dealers, Vars, regional retailers and catalogue resellers despite the cut backs.
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