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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 17:15 GMT
Apple begins European adventure
By Dominic Di-Natale
BBC News business reporter

Apple's London store
Apple waited four years to get the premises it wanted

As Apple puts the finishing touches to its new London store for Saturday's grand opening, it appears that punters eager to lay their hands on the firm's iconic iPod music player when the doors open could be disappointed.

Apple says it will not have enough iPods to meet demand when it opens the store, the California-based computer maker's first outlet in Europe.

The company's senior vice-president of retail Ron Johnson admitted that there would only be enough iPods "for the morning rush". Apple has not caught up with the demand for iPods in 10 months.

The shop, on London's landmark Regent Street, will be Apple's 99th outlet since it started opening its own stores three years ago.

Apple is expecting a big turn-out when it opens its doors on Saturday. When it opened its first store in Japan two years ago, the queue outside measured a quarter of a mile long - despite a typhoon hitting the city at the time.

Long wait

The London store will be the company's flagship retail offering in Europe.

Ron Johnson
In London we're going to make money from day one
Ron Johnson, Apple senior vice-president of retail

In typical Apple style, the store, to which press were given access on Thursday, is a designer's dream of well-illuminated steel, glass and beech fittings.

Apple waited four years to get its hands on 235 Regent Street, with its classical stone façade.

The lease on the building is held by the British Crown, and it is understood Apple has signed for up to 15 years.

Making money

The company, whose stores made $40m profit on sales of $1bn last year, is very sensitive about numbers.

It won't say how much the Regent Street investment was, nor how much it expects to make.

Apple's London store
The store is a vision of glass, steel and beech fittings

"We only open stores that we know are going to be profitable," said Mr Johnson. "Here in London we're going to make money from day one."

Apple products cost more than PCs, and they cost significantly more outside the United States. A 17" G5 iMac costs $1,299 (£700) in the US but £919 ($1,705) in the United Kingdom.

Ron Johnson told the BBC that Apple constantly monitored prices on both side of the Atlantic, but he couldn't offer a reason why the price difference was so great.

Apple plans to open stores at the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent and Bullring complex in Birmingham in the next six months. Mr Johnson said there were plans to open stores in continental Europe in 2005.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See inside the new store



SEE ALSO:
Apple unveils photo-display iPod
27 Oct 04 |  Business
Apple profits jump on iPod demand
14 Oct 04 |  Business
Apple and Motorola in music deal
27 Jul 04 |  Business
Apple doubles online music sales
15 May 03 |  Business


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