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Friday, June 02, 2006, 02:00 pm PT (05:00 pm ET)

Apple to open retail store in Italy this fall

Apple Computer plans to expand its retail operation to Italy this fall with the opening of a large retail store in Ponte di Nona, a rural area some 15 kilometers east of Roma, AppleInsider has learned.

People familiar with the company's international expansion plans say the store is slated to open this September in the Roma Est shopping plaza, which is currently under construction.

Although the Apple Store Roma will not flaunt the company's largest retail footprint — typically reserved for flagship locations — it will conform to the second largest layout and span two floors, these people say.

Inside, Apple will reportedly offer its typically array of products and services, which will include both a Genius Bar and Studio.

Apple began interviewing prospects for positions at the store as early as February through FutureStep, a local recruiting organization. It's believed the Roma store may have initially been slated to open as early as this spring but was pushed back along with the opening of the Roma Est facility.

Prospects selected to become members of Italy's first Apple Retail team will reportedly take part in a 3-month training camp at the company's London offices, at the site of the Apple Store Regent St.

Sources say Apple plans to host performances by several local music artists at the Roma store to help generate foot traffic and promote the company's line of both amateur and professional audio and video solutions.

Italy will mark the fifth country to which Apple has expanded its retail presence. The company currently operates 148 stores that are dispersed in heavily populated regions throughout the United States, UK, Japan and Canada.

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