x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Jacky's pulls plug on grey market Apples

Jacky's Electronics to source latest iPhone and iPad products through official channels only.

Because unofficial channels are “very haphazard,” the Jacky’s chain has decided to no longer sell grey-market Apple products. Pawan Singh / The National
Because unofficial channels are “very haphazard,” the Jacky’s chain has decided to no longer sell grey-market Apple products. Pawan Singh / The National

Jacky's, the electronics retailer, is discontinuing the sale of Apple products on the grey market, choosing instead to source the products from the official channels.

"We are discontinuing our sale of grey Apple products shortly," said Ashish Panjabi, the chief operating officer at Jacky's. "We are just in a period of transition for now … it's about supply and demand and Apple has now worked out supply to a stage that we are happier to work through their official channels."

The grey market has been a source of much debate in the UAE as eager fans, or "early adopters" seek consumer electronics products that are not officially launched or available in the country. To meet demand, retailers source these products from unofficial channels or the "grey market" and sell them at inflated prices.

Apple's products on the grey market can command astronomical prices. The iPhone 5 was selling for about Dh6,000 (US$1,633) in its first week on the grey market. The recommended retail price for the phone is $799.

"Initially the margins are better, but there is a lot of price fluctuation," said Neelesh Bhatnagar, the chief executive at Emax Electronics. "The grey market is not very certain, it is not an organised way of importing and is very haphazard."

Jacky's follows Emax, which decided to stop dabbling in the grey market about a year ago.

"It does not serve the customer very well," said Mr Bhatnagar. "The products are not backed up by warranty, it is not fair and generally they are more expensive than the authorised products."

Apple does not yet have a dedicated retail store for the Middle East, choosing instead to partner with Virgin Media and Jumbo Electronics and offering a dedicated shopping website to the region.

The time between Apple's launch of new products and the availability of them in the UAE has been reduced significantly. Official stocks of the iPhone 3Gs took almost a year to reach the country. The time lag has now been reduced to perhaps a month or two.

"It used to take a lot longer in the past, but now it does not take so much time," said Mr Bhatnagar. "The time lag has narrowed down significantly to 30 to 45 days from the international launch. Before, it used to be indefinite."

Apple's new iPad mini is expected to reach the UAE by the end of this month, or early next month at the latest

thamid@thenational.ae.