Apple is opening fewer stores in Europe and focusing on China instead

Tim Cook Apple Store Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesApple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple is slowing down the rate at which it is opening stores in Europe in favour of new stores in China, according to a note from a UBS analyst.

Apple has set the maximum of stores it is opening in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain at 20 per country, UBS suggested. According to the note, Apple is looking to grow in markets where iPhone penetration is low.

France is the only country of the four to have reached 20 stores, all of which but one are in France’s largest cities, which points to Apple’s strategy to focus on metropolitan areas.

UBS analyst Charles Boissier said in the note that “Apple has adopted a consistent strategy in other markets of relatively similar size.”

By limiting itself to 20 stores in large metropolitan areas, Apple is focusing on creating an immersive retail experience, where the physical space serve as a way to showcase products that can be purchased online, which is how Apple used its stores for the launch of the Apple Watch.

Apple is increasingly positioning its stores as meeting places for customers, rather than just selling and services stores.

Apple Stores UBSUBSFrance, Germany, Italy, and Spain are clearly under the 20 store limit.

Apple has seen difficulties with iPhone sales in China, where the company is rapidly losing market share. Opening new stores in the region would help it grow sales of its products.

For the launch of its red iPhone in China, the company dropped the (Product)Red branding in an effort to avoid conflict with the Chinese government, according to Apple Insider.

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