Belfast Telegraph

iConnect creates 10 Foyleside jobs at core of Apple's market

By Margaret Canning

A reseller of products by technology giant Apple is opening its first Northern Ireland store in Londonderry next month. iConnect will employ 10 people when it opens in Foyleside Shopping Centre on September 20.

The company is part of Qatari-based Al Mana Group and sells Macs, iPads, iPhones and iPods and accessories.

It has been given the title of Apple premium reseller by the technology company because of the standards of its stores and customer service. It will also carry out repairs.

Inspectors from Apple are expected to carefully examine the store's layout and the positioning of its wares before declaring it open.

John McEvoy, the Strabane-born director of iConnect, said: "We're very excited to open a new Apple premium reseller store in Foyleside Shopping Centre which will serve as our head office in Northern Ireland.

"We will be placing emphasis on providing customers with exceptional levels of service, outstanding educational platforms and an enhanced retail experience which we hope will further increase awareness and loyalty to the Apple brand as we move forward."

A spokesman for the company said it would sell all the latest products from Apple including iPhone 5s, iPadAir and the iPadmini.

Apple also operates a store in Belfast's Victoria Square Shopping Centre.

iConnect opened its first store in Whitewater Shopping Centre, Co Kildare, in September and its second store in Liffey Valley, Dublin, in November.

Parent company Al Mana Group was set up as a trading house around 60 years ago by the late Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana, and is now one of the biggest companies in Qatar.

In March this year Al Mana acquired Stream Solutions in Cork, which includes an Apple authorised training centre, as part of its plan to open iConnect shops around Ireland.

Meanwhile, online shopping is something that nine out of 10 of us now do, according to new research marking the 20th anniversary of the first secure online transaction.

According to the research, which was carried out by UK retailer Shop Direct, which operates, 95% of Britons now shop online, with one in four doing it at least once a week.

The technology revolution also appears to be playing a part in the increase in purchases online, with one in five of the 1,000 surveyed saying they used a tablet to shop, and one in 10 using a smartphone.

The two most popular app market places – the Apple App Store and Android's Google Play – both have sections dedicated to shopping apps.

Belfast Telegraph