Apple opened its first retail store in France in November 2009 and caused sales to plummet for local Apple retailers, says eBizcuss CEO François Prudent. According to a report in Le Figaro, the effect is so great that eBizcuss has filed a lawsuit against Apple, alleging the company unfairly favors its own stores over resellers.
eBizcuss is the largest Apple reseller in France and has 16 stores nationwide. CEO Prudent claims sales have fallen 30 percent in the last quarter because it was unable to secure a reasonable supply of iPads and MacBook Airs from Apple. The company also never received the iPhone 4S.
It's not just hardware that Apple is keeping for itself, it's supposedly stealing valuable customers, too. Prudent claims Apple is actively courting his business customers and has wooed many away with its lower prices. While Apple is allegedly crippling the reseller market, the company is demanding more and more from its resellers. Prudent claims he recently invested over US$6.5 million on store improvements, including a new point-of-sale system, to meet Apple's criteria.
This accusation of unfair trade practices is not anything new. Apple faced a lawsuit in 2004 when a group of five US resellers including Mac Accessory Center, Thomas Armes, MACadam Computers Inc., and others banded together and accused Apple of favoring its own stores over the resellers. Apple reached a settlement with all the plaintiffs in this case.