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Friday, June 24, 2011, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)

Apple retail to invade Hong Kong with massive two-story flagship shop

Apple plans to make a big splash this fall with its first retail store in Hong Kong, a sprawling, double-decker outlet that will serve as the latest anchor shop at the high-profile International Finance Center (IFC) Mall.

Located in the city-state's Central district, the IFC plaza spans 4.7 million square-feet and is home to some 200 high-end retailers and entertainment outlets, financial offices and Hong Kong’s most prestigious hotel and suite — the 55-story Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.

According to M.I.C. gadget, Apple plans to spend more than $20 million on construction alone, in addition to another $100 million as part of a 10-year lease commitment, on the 15,000-square-foot shop that will occupy two floors in an anchor location on the mall's far east side.

When it opens this September, the shop is expected to employ more than 300 employees who'll be tasked with serving an estimate 40,000 customers each and every day — more than 4 times the volume of an average U.S. Apple store. It's expected to arrive on the heels of a similar store scheduled to open in late August on Shanghai’s famous Nanjing Road, China's largest yet.

"A recruitment drive is underway but the store seems to be having problems recruiting people," according to the report. "There is not enough qualified people, and in Hong Kong, all the qualified ones are either rich or getting paid more elsewhere."

As such, it's rumored that Apple store employees will be flown in from all over the world to help launch the store around the same time that Apple is rumored to introduce its fifth-generation iPhone.

Apple Store Hong Kong


Apple Store Hong Kong


Apple Store Hong Kong


A leading travel destinations in Asia for mainland tourists, Hong Kong is widely regarded as a shopping oasis, rife with luxury shops that help lure some 80% of mainland tourists from their hometowns for shopping sprees that average $1540 on any given day. More than half of that sum is said to be spent on luxury clothing and electronics goods.

In addition to serving as an optimal travel destination for residence of China's Guangdong province over Beijing and Shanghai, its also cheaper for residence to purchase Apple goods in Hong Kong given current exchange rates.

For example, M.I.C. gadget notes that Apple's MacBook Air starts from HK$ 7,588 in Hong Kong but costs considerably more in China, where it starts from RMB 7,998.

Apple Store Hong Kong


Apple Store Hong Kong


The advent of an official retail store in Hong Kong should also help to stifle the region's flourishing grey market for Apple devices, where vendors routinely mark up prices for iPads and iPhones once Apple's local authorized resellers run out of stock.

Apple reportedly plans to followup the launch of its shop at the IFC Mall with a second Hong Kong location spanning and even greater 20,000 square feet at Hysan Place in Causeway Bay sometime in 2012.