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Monday, March 06, 2006, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Apple seeking an additional 20 UK retail locations?

Apple Computer, which recently overtook Dell as the No. 1 PC manufacturer in Western Europe's educational sector, is looking to open as many as 20 new retail stores in the United Kingdom, the company's real estate partners have revealed.

A report published by the Scotsman quotes Chris Braithwaite, a director at real estate company Cushman & Wakefield, as saying Apple wants to open stores in the 20 best retail locations in the UK.

"It has told us just to get on and find the space," Braithwaite told the publication.

The report speculates that Glasgow and Edinburgh may be two cities in which Apple hopes to make inroads — a move that would pit Apple-owned stores in head-on competition with Scotsys's own independent retail stores in those regions.

Independent of the report, AppleInsider can confirm the Mac maker has had aspirations of a Glasgow-based retail store for over a year now. Initially, company plans called for the Glasgow store to take on the company's mini store footprint, but questionable performance of the scaled-down retail format has reportedly caused Apple to rethink such plans.

Apple managing director in the UK, Mark Rogers, who is credited with displacing Dell to take the No. 1 spot in western Europe for educational computer sales with a 15.2 percent market share, refused to comment on the locations of future store openings.

However, the Apple exec hints the company's next push in Europe could be towards IT departments, noting there is a significant shift going on in which the kind of consumer technologies that Apple specialises in are having an increasing influence in the workplace, whether it be in instant messaging, corporate video production or podcasting.

"One of the things you see in the consumer space is the ability to be flexible and to embrace new technologies very quickly, and I think that's constantly been a challenge in the enterprise space because of the way they lock down desktops and have lots of security," he says. "Security is extremely important, but at the same time you need to build in the ability to be flexible and to utilise tools that your workforce are comfortable with and want to use on a regular basis."

In related news, WirtschaftsWoche reports that Apple is planning on opening new retail stores in Germany and is also prepping a third location in Toronto. It cites "unnamed real estate industry sources" in an advance copy of an article to appear in this week's edition.

The sources said that Apple has registered the Apple Retail Germany GmbH corporation in Munich and that it could open shops there as well as in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne and Berlin.

Meanwhile, new job postings for part-time and full-time employees indicate that a third Toronto store is in the works, while another report says that it will open by the end of the year in Sherway Gardens mall on the city’s west side—about 10 miles equidistant fromt the existing Yorkdale and future Eaton Centre stores.