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Apple retail stores get new look

Two new East Coast stores will reveal a revamped design when they open Sept. 23. But details so far are scant. Photos: Apple's Fifth Avenue look

SAN FRANCISCO--Apple Computer is giving its stores a makeover.

The company will introduce a new look to its retail outlets starting with two new stores opening Sept. 23, said Ron Johnson, senior vice president of retail at Apple. The stores sporting the revamped design are located in Providence, R.I., and Columbia, Md.

"We are going to take the wraps off an entirely new store design," Johnson told a lunchtime audience at the ThinkEquity Partners Growth Conference taking place here this week. He declined, however, to offer many specifics.

The new design and feel is, in part, based on the fancy flagship New York City store that opened in May.

"Wouldn't it be nice to replicate Fifth Avenue?" Johnson asked. That store, built opposite the Plaza Hotel and Bergdorf Goodman, is actually underground but is topped by a glass cube. Johnson did not clarify whether the new stores would take inspiration from how the New York store works or from the fact that it's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Although all Apple stores look slightly different, they share similar design themes, Johnson said. Apple tries to use clean lines and to keep the spaces uncluttered. White is dominant. Johnson, who came from Target, said both Apple and his former employer have demonstrated that style and design can help push retail profits.

Fifth Avenue store

The new stores will be about the same size as other Apple stores--about 6,000 square feet.

Johnson added that Apple will continue to build stores at its current pace--about 40 new stores a year, or one every nine days.

He also had some snazzy facts about Apple stores. Apple holds about 3,500 events in its stores every week. Twenty-six percent of Apple's profits from the first three quarters of the current fiscal year came from the stores.

The average store gets an average of 10,876 visitors per week these days, up from 9,316 last fiscal year. The stores generate an average revenue of $441,000 a week.

Apple employs 5,000 at its stores, and employee turnover is a low 20 percent a year.