Update: Reuters reports that Michel Coulomb has been appointed to replace Kaul.
Coulomb has worked with Apple since 2003 and was most recently the managing director for Apple in South Asia, according to his biography on professional network LinkedIn.
According to a new report out of The Economic Times, Apple’s head of India operations is leaving the company with “immediate effect.” Sanjay Kaul has been in charge of Apple’s operations in India for the last year and a half, during which Apple has faced mixed results in the country…
The report cites unnamed sources and says Kaul will likely begin “another venture in an industry that may not be directly connected to the mobile phones business.”
Apple has not yet commented on the departure of its India manager, while Kaul himself has also gone quiet.
News of Kaul’s departure comes on the heels of Apple hiking prices in India just earlier today. As we reported this morning, Apple was forced to increase prices of every iPhone except the locally made iPhone SE model by an average of 3.5 percent due to a rise in import taxes.
Apple has attempted to work closely with the Indian government on bringing more manufacturing to the country, but ultimately has seen mixed results.
For instance, Apple pleaded with officials to delay the aforementioned import taxes to give it time to further expand its manufacturing in India. Ultimately, however, the Indian government rejected that request and went ahead with the increased tax rate.
Furthermore, India’s Commerce Minister has said the country would be ‘very happy’ for Apple to expand local manufacturing, but the country has otherwise been wary to offer the company any concessions.
The Economic Times notes that Apple’s growth in India has significantly slowed this year to 17 percent. One retailer in Mumbai told the news outlet that it has “adequate stock” of Apple smartphones but “not enough buyers.”
An analyst at IDC India, however, is more bullish:
“Apple enjoys huge brand premium and appeal in India, similar to all its other markets around the world. Consumers do not mind paying a premium for Apple products and in fact an Apple consumer doesn’t look at the price, the first thing while making purchase,” said Navkendar Singh, senior research associate at IDC India.
Apple and Tim Cook have repeatedly touted the company’s growth potential in India. Apple eventually hopes to set up retail stores in the country, but things seemingly have taken a turn for the worse with Kaul’s departure.