The 300th Apple Store to compete with Apple's most trafficked branch

The new Apple Store in Covent Garden finally opened last week after a 12-month process of consultation and refurbishment of the site. In the middle of a recession and with UK consumer confidence plunging once again, the Cupertino-based firm bids for a key market in Europe to compete with London's Regent Street branch. According to Ron Johnson, Senior VIP of Retails Operations, the shop that was launched as Europe's first is now the most trafficked worldwide, and now is getting an internal direct competitor in the very touristic West End. 


Yesterday I attended an iPad workshop at the new site and took the opportunity to have a look and bring some pictures. The comparisons are inevitable because Londoners have had a big reference in Regents Street when it came to satisfy our geekyness. The Covent Garden store feels huge. Three doors welcome you to an area with Macs on display. The entrance is covered from the elements; something strategic in England is you know what I mean. The store has two staircases, one being the spiral model seen in other shops. I believe this was meant to be one of the attractions, but it has been placed on a corner to access the mezzanine and is shadowed by the bright courtyard in the middle of the ground floor. 


Apple did an amazing you keeping many original interior features and the high tech materials used (and contents) blend pretty well with the restored exposed brick. The glass roof covering the courtyard is similar to the original structure and for me is a hint of the English greenhouse roofing used in the neighbouring Covent Garden market. There are actually some smart architectural solutions to preserve the continuity of the facade and interior features (historical impact documents here). 
The upstairs space is dedicated to workshops and training activities, which covers the lack of a theatre for presentations and event to large groups. The store will be a success and in my opinion is particularly well place, as Covent Garden Square is packed with tourists 24-7. Londoners have a new space to enjoy the Apple experience, but the crowds and queues will be the same as Regents Street.