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Apple resellers in Europe say inventory delays affecting business

Life is a bit difficult for Apple's Premium Resellers in Europe now that the company is expanding retail locations throughout the continent. A post by France's Les Echos profiles a complaint by eBizcuss, the largest and first authorized reseller of Apple products in France (through their ICLG subsidiary), about the impact that the popular Apple Stores are having on the company. TUAW first covered this story in December, when we noted that eBizcuss has filed a lawsuit against Apple.

eBizcuss saw sales fall 22 percent in the third quarter of 2011, and the company is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. The company has 200 employees and 15 stores throughout France, but has had its stock price drop by 50 percent in the last year.

This isn't happening only in France -- AppleInsider reports that a person contacted the blog claiming that resellers in Sweden and Germany are also in jeopardy of going bankrupt, and that Apple's resellers in the Netherlands are concerned about the imminent opening of the first Dutch Apple store on February 18.

The resellers are saying that they're not only seeing a continuing shortage of product in their stores, but they're being held to incredible standards that are almost impossible to meet. Apple audits the resellers, sending in mystery shoppers to make sure that resellers meet the standards. The French resellers are complaining that the inspections are being done by a British firm rather than Apple France.

Some stores have been asked to change locations, because the ceilings weren't high enough to pass Apple's muster. In other cases, furnishings for the retail outlets have have to be ordered from an Apple-specified German furniture company, and Apple requires that products be displayed in an obsessively detailed way.

As for eBizcuss, their store at the Hotel de Ville in Paris is nearly empty, with no iPhones in stock. The nearby Apple Store at the Carrousel du Louvre? Packed, with iPhones and iPads in profusion. Things will only get worse for the Authorized Resellers, as Apple has noted that they want to open "dozens" of new stores in France.

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