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Apple presence forces Glasgow reseller to close its doors

Repeating a trend seen elsewhere in the world, Apple's Glasgow, Scotland retail store has been siphoning enough customers away from local reseller Scotsys to force the third-party shop to close its store in the city.

Ever since opening in late August of last year, the conspicuously-marked official Apple outlet has effectively squeezed Scotsys' Glasgow store out of its mainstream market, making it unprofitable for the latter to compete with the Mac maker outside of specialty fields such as education, government, and small business.

"The closure of our Glasgow store is a simple recognition of the fact that, since Apple opened its outlet on Buchanan Street, there has been very little room at the high-volume consumer end of the market," says managing director John McAleenan, who heads Scotsys' parent company Adventi.

Despite the setback, Scotsys will continue to operate offices out of Bellshill and Edinburgh and says that retail was not key to its success. The firm points out that it has just secured a regional government order for 1,000 Macs and that it continues to work with the government to encourage orders from local businesses, rather than large multinationals such as Apple.

The shuttering of the reseller's Glasgow presence represents the latest chapter in what is often seen as a tug of war between Apple and the third-party stores it needs to extend its sales network. While Best Buy plans an expansion of the number of its stores with official Apple sections, Mac-focused stores have sometimes found themselves under increased pressure once Apple either sets up a nearby store or achieves a breakthrough in direct sales for the region.

Apple's online store is believed to have forced multiple Canadian stores to close even before first-party stores appeared, as resellers were often unable to supply customers with new systems as quickly as direct orders. Some of these retailers have in the past accused Apple of making small and medium-sized resellers a distant second priority to its own shops and very large retailers like Best Buy, shipping most iPods and Macs to its preferred outlets in advance of others.

The issue first came to wider public attention in 2003, when MACadam's Tom Santos and the owners of two other since-closed Apple resellers filed a lawsuit against Apple, charging the company with taking illegal steps to drive customers to its official stores at the expense of local businesses. At the time, the plaintiffs argued that Apple was pursuing a systematic plan of shutting down third-party stores by delaying shipments of new products, badmouthing resellers, and of raising the costs for both new Macs and repairs.

To date, Apple has denied the claims. Beginning as early as 2004, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has also reportedly instituted reseller-neutral policies for sales staff to prevent them from disparaging third-party shops and products in an attempt to steer more business towards Apple.