Apple Centres form retail stronghold

Apple Computer yesterday announced that seven of its largest partners will merge to form a new entity with plans to list on the ASX.

Choice Connections, Design Wyse, GM Computer, Mac's Place, Manning Computers, Next Byte and Status Graph will commence the merger process by the end of July and officially commence trading in August.

Apple reports the "new company", which is yet to be officially named, will become its largest channel partner representing over 30 retail locations, parts of its professional market division and some Apple Education Centres.

In addition, the entity is considering forming an online component of the business. "We will have what's referred to as clicks and mortar," said Craig Rispin, business development manager at GM Computer and the new company.

While he was not sure exactly how the clicks and mortar operation will work, he said it will be developed in partnership with Apple.

Apple's corporate affairs manager, Myrna van Pelt, told ARN the company would represent one third of its business in Australia. van Pelt said no date has been set for the entity's ASX listing, a move designed to attract additional funding to fuel expansion plans.

Arthur Andersen Corporate Finance is acting as the entity's financial advisors for the merger and any subsequent listing, the company reports.

Rispin said the decision to merge was the result of shared advertising and marketing activities between the Apple dealers. It was not originally an initiative of Apple but has the full support of the company.

Rispin said the merger "doesn't come from weakness or worrying", but a desire by the Apple Centres involved to continue growth rates currently around the 150 per cent mark.

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