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Apple is reportedly in talks with an Israeli retail property group to bring its company-owned brick-and-mortar stores to the country, the latest in an effort to open consumer hubs in the world's major metropolitan centers.
According to Yediot Achronot, Apple is in discussions to partner with real estate and holdings firm Azrieli Group on its first retail store in Israel. Talks between the two parties have been ongoing for "several" months, including a recent meeting at an exhibition in Las Vegas, but a deal has yet to be signed.
If negotiations are fruitful, Apple will open an outlet at the foot of Sarona Tower in Tel-Aviv, a space Azrieli originally intended to develop as a luxury mall, the report said. Sarona is no stranger to U.S. multinationals, as the upper floors of Israel's tallest building host the offices Silicon Valley tech giants Amazon and Facebook.
Though Apple products are available in the country through Apple Authorized Reseller iDigital, Israel has never had an Apple-owned store, meaning the country has done without amenities such as on-site repairs through the Genius Bar and Today at Apple educational sessions.
iDigital is owned by Pitango Venture Capital, which counts Nechemia (Chemi) Peres, son of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, as a managing general partner. iDigital operates retail stores in Tel Aviv's Ramat Aviv Mall, Tel Aviv Dizengoff Center, Haifa's Grand Canyon Mall, and Cinema City in Rishon LeZion.
Interestingly, the mall will supposedly be "unmanned." Given Sarona's existing list of tenants, Azrieli has reportedly decided to turn the space into an electronics center, similar to advanced technology malls that exist in Asia. The Apple store is expected to be the main attraction.
If true, the move would be out of character for Apple, a company that typically selects heavily trafficked retail malls or shopping destinations as homes for its international outlets.