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Thursday, May 20, 2004, 11:00 am PT (02:00 pm ET)

Documents: Apple planned 4 Canadian retail stores by 2005

Exclusive: Apple Computer Inc. had previously planned to open up to four retail stores in Canada by the end of the 2004 calendar year, according to internal company documents and retail roll-out plans recently shown to AppleInsider.

The documents, which are believed to have been authored last year, indicate that the first two Canadian Apple retail stores were originally scheduled to open in the second half of 2003. The stores, listed only by reference names 'Canada 1' and 'Canada 2,' were among 22 other stores planned for the fiscal year, including several other US locations that have also yet to launch.

Two additional stores listed as 'Canada 3' and 'Canada 4' were among 14 Apple retail stores previously planned for the 2004 calendar year, and were the only two stores designated for a debut during the second half of the year.

It appears that plans to expand the company's retail initiative into Canada have either fallen behind schedule or been changed due to unknown reasons. Consequently, the shortcomings in Canada may have done their part to escalate the roll-out of Apple's two Japan retail locations which, according to documents, were not scheduled to open until early and late 2004, respectively.

In February, AppleInsider was first to report on Apple's plans to launch at least two stores in the Toronto, Ontario area and noted that company representatives were actively seeking additional locations in and outside of the province. At the time, Apple was said to be in discussions with realtors representing two of the country's largest shopping centers; the 1.6-million-square-foot Yorkdale Shopping Center and the 3-million-square-foot Eaton Centre.

It's been reported that Apple had also expressed interest in opening a retail location at the Vaughan Mills mall, which is currently under construction right outside of Toronto.

In March, Apple Canada laid off several of its reseller channel representatives without any prior notification. Sources said the move was the very beginning of a major reorganization plan expected to hit Apple Canada in the coming months.