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Apple is hiring workers in India as it plans to open its first flagship stores

Apple has begun hiring for retail stores in India and announced plans to fill many other roles as it prepares to open its first flagship locations in the world’s second-largest smartphone market as early as this quarter.

On Friday, Apple’s career page listed openings for 12 different job roles it is looking to fill at “various locations in India,” including technical expert, business expert, senior manager, store leader and “genius.”

Many job descriptions relate directly to leading retail operations. “The Apple Store is a retail environment like no other – uniquely focused on delivering incredible customer experiences,” says one.

The 12 listings mean hundreds of open jobs, as a typical Apple store has at least 100 employees and flagship locations can have up to 1,000 workers.

Some of the features on Apple’s website, such as “market leader,” describe managing teams “across Apple Stores,” implying that work is being done at several locations beyond the widely reported 22,000-square-foot location to open in Mumbai already in March.

Separately, at least five employees in Mumbai and New Delhi have posted on LinkedIn that they have been hired for yet-to-be-announced stores. One announced that she had been appointed to a “lead genius” – a customer-facing technical support role – while another said she had been appointed to a senior manager role. Apple’s head of recruitment in India, Renu Sevanti, “celebrated” several announcements on the social networking site.

Apple, which did not immediately comment, did not confirm plans to open its first stores in the country. But in February 2020, CEO Tim Cook told investors that the Apple Store would expand to India next year, saying he was not content to leave retail to franchise partners. “I don’t want someone else to run the brand for us,” Cook said at the 2020 annual shareholder meeting.

Later that year, Apple launched its online store for India, greeting online shoppers with “Namaste,” but physical stores failed to emerge.

The expansion would be important for Apple as it tries to diversify manufacturing away from China and swing its manufacturing operations in India. Supply chain experts say Apple has a “silicon-to-storefront” ambition to control every aspect of the customer experience — from Apple’s chips in its phones to Apple Store salespeople.

“The stars are finally aligning for Apple in India,” said Neil Shah, an analyst at Counterpoint, a market research group.

Cook personally visited and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, reportedly lobbying for an Apple store to open in the country. But protectionist rules require foreign companies that sell goods directly to consumers to source 30 percent of their components locally.

However, the rules have been relaxed in recent years, and in 2017, Apple suppliers began assembling iPhones in India. This allowed it to avoid tariffs of 22 percent, which helped boost sales. New Delhi has since given incentives to smartphone makers to shift more manufacturing to the country, resulting in heavy investment by Taiwanese contract manufacturers Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron.

India’s Tata Group, which makes iPhone cases in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, plans to expand its operations to provide a wider range of components for Apple, according to three people familiar with its plans, on which the Indian industry group declined to comment.

About 200 million smartphones were manufactured in India last year, ten times more than the number made in 2014, according to Counterpoint. And while Apple’s market share in India is only 5 percent, it is growing rapidly and leads the premium segment with two-fifths of total sales.

“Since the pandemic, the number of iPhones sold in India has almost doubled,” Shah said. “It drives sales of Macs, Apple watches and iPads.” There is a positive network effect. So Apple is noticing this rapidly growing market and now is the time to get in, to invest.”

Shah said that by the end of this year, Apple India is expected to have a four-tier sales strategy.

This would include e-commerce sales, at least two flagship stores in the most affluent cities, 10 or more other stores in potential partnership with Tata, in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, as well as growing store-within-a-store partnerships with major retailers across countries.

Additional reporting by John Reid in New Delhi

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