There aren’t many tech brands in the world that can make an event out of the opening of a new store. But Apple always manages to foster a sense of occasion whenever it opens the doors to one of its new retail outlets.
That’s no different with this week’s opening of a new Apple Store in London’s wealthy Knightsbridge district. Setting up shop on Brompton Road – just a short walk away from the world famous Harrods luxury department store – it’s the sixth Apple-branded retail location in the UK’s capital city. iMore took a look inside ahead of its grand opening.
Location, location, location
As you’d expect, customers will be able to pick up all manner of Apple goods from the store, from the best iPhones to the best MacBooks (not to mention the rumored-and-likely-upcoming iPhone 14), along with third-party accessories, as well as sign up for classes, repairs, troubleshooting, and one-off in-store events from creatives working within the Apple ecosystem. It’s also the first London Apple store to have a dedicated ‘pick-up’ desk for in-person collections of orders made online.
But, as ever with Apple Store openings, it’s just as much about the location, design and architecture of the new store as it is the wares inside.
“Our designers took a lot of time and detail and intention in designing this store,” Wendy Beckman, Senior Director of Apple Retail for the EMEIA region, told iMore at a preview event at the store today.
“So, as you look up at the timber ceilings, they actually match the geometry of the historical facade.
“It's seven metres high. So the flooding of the natural light is incredible. And then the arched windows are four metres wide and they’re floor to ceiling. But what they also do is frame the Sicilian ficus trees. That's important as it's a reference to Hyde Park, which is a stone's throw away.”
There’s also a nod to the location’s retail history in the way its floorspace is laid out:
“As you walk in you may not notice this, but the central arcade matches the dimensions of the Brompton Arcade, which was built in this precise location in 1903,” revealed Beckman.
And Apple’s continued efforts to be more environmentally conscious in all its activities extends to the new store's design, too.
“Apple stores you may have visited have terrazzo floors. But these are a first worldwide because they're sustainable bio resin terrazzo floors. That’s made up of castor oil and aggregate from Europe as well as recycled glass. And why that's super important is because it's a 77% impact reduction in embodied carbon.
“And this store as well as all of our facilities are powered by 100% renewable energy.”
Staff and in-store experiences
As well as a tour of the new shop, the preview event also marked the debut of “United Visions,” an augmented reality experience re-imagining the creative works of London poet and painter William Blake for modern audiences, conceived and developed by Tin Nguyen and Ed Cutting, with a soundtrack by Grammy Award-winning record producer Just Blaze. You can try it out at home by grabbing its app.
The store will be staffed by a large and diverse team, too. Brompton Road will employ 200 staff (100 new hires), speaking 45 languages and representing 26 different nationalities. It’s a team that includes artists, musicians and developers amongst its ranks.
Apple’s Brompton Road store opens on Thursday, 28 July, with a robust schedule of events lined up to mark the opening. These include AR panel discussions, an Apple Fitness+ Q&A with trainers Cory Wharton-Malcolm, Jamie-Ray Hartshorne, Kim Ngo, and Jonelle Lewis, joined by Jay Blahnik (Apple’s vice president of Fitness Technologies), and a special performance and Spatial Audio listening session by artist Nina Nesbitt.
Check out more shots from inside the store in the gallery below.
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Gerald Lynch is the Editor-in-Chief of iMore, keeping careful watch over the site's editorial output and commercial campaigns, ensuring iMore delivers the in-depth, accurate and timely Apple content its readership deservedly expects. You'll never see him without his iPad Pro, and he loves gaming sessions with his buddies via Apple Arcade on his iPhone 14 Pro, but don't expect him to play with you at home unless your Apple TV is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system.
Living in London in the UK, Gerald was previously Editor of Gizmodo UK, and Executive Editor of TechRadar, and has covered international trade shows including Apple's WWDC, MWC, CES and IFA. If it has an acronym and an app, he's probably been there, on the front lines reporting on the latest tech innovations. Gerald is also a contributing tech pundit for BBC Radio and has written for various other publications, including T3 magazine, GamesRadar, Space.com, Real Homes, MacFormat, music bible DIY, Tech Digest, TopTenReviews, Mirror.co.uk, Brandish, Kotaku, Shiny Shiny and Lifehacker. Gerald is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press, and also holds a Guinness world record on Tetris. For real.