Apple Reveals Plans to Open 40 New Stores in FY06

| Reports

During the companyis earnings conference call on Wednesday, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer revealed that the firm will open 40 new stores during its current fiscal year, which concludes Sept. 30. "I think a little more than 30 will be in the United States," he said to analysts during the Q&A session.

While Appleis retail segment profit dropped from US$42 million in the year-ago quarter to $29 million this year, traffic grew from 13 million visitors to 18.1 million, "translating to over 10,000 visitors per store per week," Mr. Oppenheimer said. He added that more than 50,000 one-to-one personal training sessions were delivered in the storesi new creative studios during the quarter.

During the Q&A with analysts, Mr. Oppenheimer said that Apple addressed the move to Intel processors immediately after the new Intel iMacs and MacBook Pro laptops were announced at Macworld in January. "We changed all the product merchandising and the Window displays and graphics in the store, really to communicate that this was the future," he explained. "As Intel-based Macs arrived in the stores, we stopped carrying the comparable PowerPC models."

The CFO added: "As you may have seen, our retail sales teams were not discouraged from telling customers to wait for Intel-based Macs if that was the best thing for the customer. [We] really let the customer purchase what they wanted to and that impacted us in the quarter."

One analyst pointed out that "PC units per store are down fairly meaningfully on a year-over-year basis," when investors consider the fact that Apple has more stores open now than it did a year ago. Mr. Oppenheimer didnit directly address that issue, simply repeating what he had said earlier about focusing on the transition to Intel in the stores, even if that hurt sales.

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