The iPod will be available in Virgin Megastores in time for the Christmas rush, Apple has revealed.

The retail move marks Apple's first step away from traditional computer-hardware retailing. The iPod will be available from all 165 Virgin Megastore and Virgin Xpress UK outlets.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Virgin to bring the iPod to even more customers”, said Mark Rogers, Apple’s sales director and general manager for the UK and Ireland.

The Virgin deal follows an announcement by executive VP of worldwide sales and operations Tim Cook, who revealed Apple "has put a lot of energy into joining with music value-added resellers."

Despite a raft of iPod-like devices, including models from Gateway and Dell, flooding the market, research firm NPD had confirmed that the iPod is still the number one MP3 player.

Apple recently confirmed a 140 per cent increase in iPod sales, year-on-year, with 336,000 units shipping across the last quarter.

Apple's chief financial officer Fred Anderson also announced plans to boost sales of iPods by making them available at 8,000 resellers worldwide before Christmas.