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The new Apple Store in London: where we left with a packet of seeds. Apple has proven itself resistant to the economic challenges a lot of consumer technology companies have faced of late, and the opening of a new flagship retail store in one of London’s most affluent areas embodies its ongoing success pretty well – and TechRadar got an early chance to look around.
The new Brompton Road Apple Store has taken over the site of the previous Brompton Arcade, which was built in 1903. It is tucked away in Knightsbridge, a posh neighborhood in London where designer clothing boutiques coexist with the renowned luxury department store Harrods.
The design of Brompton Road pays attention to the location on which it is placed, much like the company’s other London stores in Regent Street and Covent Garden. For example, the shape of the seven-meter tall floor to ceiling arched glass windows echos the original arcade.
As storefronts go it’s hard to miss, especially when you can see what’s inside.
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Grab and go
The Brompton Road Apple Store is the first in the nation to provide Apple Pickup, a method that replaced Apple’s Express Pickup system, which let customers to obtain products without having to visit stores during lockdown, and that Apple has been working hard to create in the US.
Customers will have a designated location where they can go to pick up the things they’ve ordered online for the first time in a UK Apple Store, as opposed to needing to flag down a staff person to assist with their order.
When the anticipated iPhone 14 launches in September, this will be quite helpful because there will be a consistent stream of consumers in the weeks that follow the release, and being able to traverse them will make the experience a little smoother.
The Brompton Road Apple Pickup zone is unique in that it is located in the back, on the left side of the store. Michael Steeber, a blogger for the Apple Store, has discussed how Apple is publicly changing the placement of these Pickup sections in various stores, using various positions and layouts depending on the location.
You’ll need to navigate the new Apple Brompton Road Store’s many other Apple products in order to pick up your new smartphone, passing through tree-lined areas and maybe tempting AirPods trial areas where you can test out Apple’s own headphones.
While you grab your order, the eye might be also caught by the huge ‘Today at Apple’ screens that show off workshops and other content that take place in the Store – perhaps another design choice to engulf customers in the differing Apple retail experience.
The Apple Store on Brompton Road shares the same open-plan architecture as the company’s original Regent Street branch, which opened in London in 2004 and underwent renovation in 2016. This was done to highlight the company’s commitment to sustainability.
The walls and pillars are lined with sandblasted Castagna stone; the terrazzo flooring is made of a bio-resin that contains castor oil and recycled glass; the tables, which are adorned with iPhones, iPads, and Macs; and the arched ceilings are all made of sustainable wood; twelve sizable ficus trees soften the space and serve as a reminder to visitors that this isn’t just a retail space.
At launch, Apple has decorated the windows with plant-based themes mixed with some of their most popular goods. Guests from the preview event also received a packet of wildflower seeds with the same custom designs. Hyde Park is one of the city’s most conveniently situated green places.
Not the typical thing Apple customers can expect to pick up, when the store formally opens on July 28.
Educate and entertain
Apple’s new Brompton Road store, like its other flagship sites, will provide a variety of free activities, including training sessions, presentations, and more focused on creativity and fitness.
Trainers Cory Wharton-Malcolm, Jamie-Ray Hartshorne, Kim Ngo, and Jonelle Lewis will lead an Apple Fitness+ Q&A session on opening day, which will be followed by a three-kilometer walk and a five-kilometer run around Hyde Park. Jay Blahnik, Apple’s VP of Fitness Technologies, will also be present.
Additional sessions including talks on AR (the preview event also marked the launch of the new ‘United Visions’ AR experience, created for the Getty Museum by Tin&Ed and award-winning producer, Just Blaze), as well as illustration sessions, where attendees will be shown how to create using ‘inspiration from the local blooms,’ as Apple puts it.
Fans inside and out
The staff in Apple’s retail stores are a famously passionate bunch and that rang true based on the interactions we had during the preview event.
The 200-strong team is reportedly comprised of musicians, artists and developers from 26 nationalities, speaking 45 languages, and chatting with a handful of them, there was a tangible sense of excitement surrounding opening day and the interactions they were expecting to have with the initial wave of curious customers.
The stage is set
The Apple Store Brompton Road carries all of the hallmarks that make the company’s other London locations appealing retail experiences.
When the iPhone 14 series eventually becomes available, there is little question that this new store will be home to a familiar queue of ecstatic Apple enthusiasts in the upcoming months (expected to be around late September).
Even if the rumors are accurate and the iPhone 14 does end up costing more than its predecessor, wealthy Knightsbridge will be the last neighborhood in London where a few extra dollars will go undetected.