It’s not often you get the chance to visit a new flagship Apple Store in your own town – so I was there in a flash
Apple Battersea opened just under a week ago and over the weekend I took myself off there to have a good look around to get a good feeling of what it was like.
Over the past few months, I have written quite a lot about Apple Retail and the problems that it’s been facing. Since first throwing open its doors over 20 years ago, Apple Stores have proved popular with customers, but the same has not always been true for those working there.
Recently there have been stories of disquiet in Apple retail with demands for better hourly rates, more flexible shift patterns, added holidays and perks and even a method of direct tipping servers.
Apple has always tried to encourage a positive working environment and trying hard to involve their employees as much as possible helping them to feel involved in the store. With the threat of unionisation hanging over some stores more than ever Apple is trying to create a harmonious workspace.
I have to say, after visiting the Battersea store, from the outside they seemed to have succeeded. I spent a good 20 minutes chatting with my server and she had all the time in the world for me – even before she thought I was buying anything!
Part of the plan
This store is part of a larger retail program that is seeing Apple freshen up many of the existing European and U.S. locations whilst seeking to push further into the developing China & Asia markets.
15 stores are coming to the Asia-Pacific region, four new stores in the U.S. and Canada, and five additional sites in Europe and the Middle East.
They also have their sights set on either relocating or refurbishing stores in Asia, Europe & North America. Apple is pretty serious about its retail division then!
Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of Retail said of the new London location;
“Our stores are a place where the community can come together to discover all of Apple’s incredible products and services, and we’re proud to be expanding to serve even more customers with the opening of Apple Battersea. Located just below our new U.K. headquarters, our amazing team is excited to provide exceptional support and help customers unleash their creativity.”
That’s right – Battersea now plays home to Apple’s UK headquarters and their 3000-strong employees and has taken up approximately 40 per cent of the entire building including the top six floors of this impressive space.
Happy to help
My server mentioned how she had relocated from the Regent Street store and seemed to have real pride and a feeling of belonging in the new Battersea store.
Many of the staff there have been hands-on with the design and layout of the store from the choices of the reclaimed floor covering used to the fittings and fixtures on the display walls.
She was so enthused to tell me how this was a groundbreaking store for Apple and that this store was now the premiere Apple Store in the UK and the showcase for Apple globally. She showed me parts of exposed walls that weren’t covered in sustainably sourced oak, that hark back to the original Art Deco power station and iron beams that have been manufactured to replicate those features of the original building.
Everywhere you look, Battersea Power Station has been renovated in a very empathetic manner with all kinds of originality left exposed – and Apple has taken a steer from that 1930 design style and melded it to their brand.
The ceiling is high and open with acoustic baffles that I think are made in part from sugar cane. Apart from simply looking lovely they also aid with acoustic clarity in-store. Where possible the store has looked at the local community and environment to create something unique and has used reclaimed or recycled materials as much as possible to fit into the company’s environmental ethos. Battersea is operationally carbon neutral and runs on 100 per cent renewable energy.
Speaking of that local community, Apple in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre and Curated Makers, Apple Creatives have supported eight local emerging creatives to bring Shot on iPhone and Made on iPad works to life, all inspired by Battersea Power Station.
Again pulling on that local community feeling, Apple Battersea offers both photo and art tours of the site showing you how best to create with your devices.
Go with the flow
The store flows with a theme as you move around it with each category having its own space. – and you can get an idea of it from this short I made.
iPad, Music, TV and iPhone are all given their own spacious ‘avenues’ along with every conceivable accessory that you could ever wish for also available.
Unlike many of Apple’s more recent stores Battersea does have a Genius Bar but it is more inviting and informal than other stores. Here you sit with your Genius rather than having them sit behind a bar.
The centre of the store is taken up by tables of varying heights with Macs, iPhone, displays and iPads all laid out ready for you to play with. There’s also a dedicated space for Today at Apple as well.
Also unique to this store is a ‘studio’ or ‘experience’ area. When I visited it was set up for Apple Watch but apparently, it will focus on different products and new releases as they come along – and yes, my mind did wander to picturing Apple Vision in that space!
I have mostly bought my Apple products online, but having been to this Battersea store I will try where possible to deal with them directly – in fact, I already have a business account set up with them!
Travelling to Battersea is super easy too by either bus, train or car. It was a great experience from start to finish. Every high-end retail outlet you could wish for was there – Rolex, Chanel, Mulberry, Breitling, IWC…there are endless food outlets and river view restaurants, bars, a garden square in the sky and a 2000-seat cinema.
As for the Apple Store, it was head and shoulders above any that I have been to and kind of put me in mind a little of how I’d expect the store at New York’s Grand Central Station to be – it had that kind of cosmopolitan vibe to it.
Apple Battersea feels as if it is setting the trend for its future stores – and it is also a dangerously easy place to spend money too.
Guess what – if you look forward to my articles & blogs landing each day, you can help that happen! By clicking via this link, you can join Medium, and get my blogs every day, the moment I publish them. And, you can even get email notifications about them too.
Before you go – join my mailing list here.