UK resellers' opinions are divided regarding Apple's chain of US retail stores.

Apple hopes to kick-start growth, and develop a new customer base, with the introduction of 25 Apple-owned retail stores across the US this year. An unspecified number of stores will open in 2002.

Maneesh Patel, marketing director of Mygate, said: "It would be a big problem for local dealers if this was repeated in the UK, however for Apple's brand awareness it would be valuable to all of us.

"A limited number of stores won't provide the same service nationally. Resellers can provide a full range of products and services in the places Apple Stores don't reach.

"Apple retail stores are the bricks-and-mortar version of Apple's Online store. Following initial concerns, we did not find that the online store really affected us. We are hoping the impact will be similar and that the stores will generate new Macintosh users. This would be good for the whole industry."

"We'd be willing to work together with Apple to create similar store environments in the UK. Such partnerships may be a practical route for Apple to extend its concept beyond US shores."

Public awareness Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, said the company was motivated to open its own retail outlets because 95 per cent of consumers "don't even consider Apple" when purchasing a computer right now. "If only five of the remaining 95 per cent switch to Macs, then we'll double our market share," he said.

Fred Anderson, Apple's chief financial officer, expects the stores to break even by the end of 2001, and to return a profit in Apple's fiscal year 2002. Apple has recruited heavily from retailers, such as Target, Gap and Bloomingdales, to create a retail division lead by Ron Johnson, a former Target merchandising executive.

Chas Holiday, a Mac and More salesman believes that opening Apple retail stores in the UK "could" be a good decision, but observed: "From a resellers point of view, if they didn't recruit existing resellers to do the job, in favour of new recruits, it could fail.

"Apple would lose the experience of resellers at the sharp end of UK retail."

Improved support David Shaw, purchasing director for onestopapple, welcomes the move saying: "I think it would be good. There's no support for customers in the large department stores that Apple has traditionally vended its goods in, such as John Lewis.

"Retail stores in the UK would be good for resellers, as it would create more demand for Apple products. Apple supports its resellers, and I am sure that it would sell at the recommended retail price. Anyway, there is not much of a profit margin in Apple products. There is more to be made from peripherals. I hope it opens one in Edmonton."

Apple shares climbed after brokering firm AG Edwards recommended their clients buy Apple's stock. They argued the new retail stores and a revised education strategy will give the stock a decent near-term boost.