There’s no doubt that products like iMacs,iPods and iBooks – colourful, funky and culturally superior – have helped buildApple into a leading world brand. Husband and wife team Jayson and AnishaRamsammy believe in that brand and have used their passion to create Cool AppleBuddy, an independently-owned Apple retail centre in SandtonCity, Johannesburg.In 1991, Jayson, a computer collegegraduate, started working at MBM Graphics, a medical technology company with asideline in importing Apple products. Four years later, he joined Human TouchComputing to focus solely on distributing Apple hardware and software. “Thecompany enjoyed phenomenal growth,” recalls Jayson. He attributes this success to the growth ofApple itself; its innovatively designed iMacs and iBooks had instant appeal,which translated into high demand. Jayson realised that this demand speltopportunities for Apple as a retailer, but his colleagues disagreed. Jaysonthen started selling Apple computers to his wife, Anisha, who owned a computersales company.
It was a good move. Anisha’s sales fromApple products provided the funds she needed to open the first Cool Apple Buddystore, measuring just 20 square metres, in Rivonia. Customers were drawn toAnisha’s energy and the shop’s attractive layout, and it wasn’t long beforeCool Apple Buddy needed bigger premises.“We relocated, but another three moves wererequired to accommodate our growth. Eventually, the shop expanded to 200 squaremetres and drew the attention of Apple South Africa, who made us anofficial supplier,” Anisha says.By this time, Jayson had joined Anisha asher partner, creating a formidable team. “I had the technical knowledge, whileAnisha’s strengths were identifying and supplying the correct product mix.”The store was flying high – but not as highas it could be. “A customer suggested we move into a prominent centre tobenefit from more foot traffic. We forwarded a proposal to the management of Sandton City, who had space in Sandton Square,today Nelson Mandela Square,”says Anisha.Again, a good move. “Business increasedphenomenally,” Jayson says; it was good news for Anisha, who had sold her carto fund the relocation.
The business continued to grow in line withApple’s escalating popularity. From four employees, the company now has a staffcount of 24, and Jayson and Anisha have had to get to grips with a fast-movingbusiness that required more stock, more spares and more product knowledge. “Thestore grew by 300%,” saysJayson proudly.He and Anisha have succeeded in spite oftheir disadvantaged backgrounds and of having no prior experience in running abusiness before Cool Apple Buddy. “We’ve built this business by ourselves,overcoming stiff competition and the rather political nature of Apple’s supplychain,” Jayson says.The couple have also survived an incidentof mismanagement that cost them over R700 000, and grapple with the dailychallenges of a business that’s cash intensive and has low profit margins. Howdo they tackle these problems? “We’re delighted to share our love for ourproduct with our clients,” says Jayson.The future will see them targeting Apple tothe corporate market. “While our retail market is strong, Apple has a lot tooffer businesses, and we’re keen to capitalise on these opportunities,” theyconclude.
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