Computer giant has a hit list of 20 UK cities

American computer giant Apple has a hit list of 20 UK cities where it wants to open stores in the next few years, Retail Week can reveal.

The iconic iPod manufacturer, which has just agreed terms for a 4,000 sq ft (370 sq m) site at Manchester's Trafford Centre - its fifth UK outlet - has instructed property agent Cushman & Wakefield to find it the necessary space. A sixth store, at Sheffield's Meadowhall, is also in the pipeline as Apple nears its target of having half a dozen outlets trading in the run-up to Christmas.

The list for further openings includes Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle. It is thought the stores will be of a similar size to the outlet in Manchester.

Cushman & Wakefield director Chris Braithwaite said: 'Apple wants to open in the 20 best retail locations in the country. It has told us just to get on and find it the space.'

Braithwaite declined to reveal how much Apple has earmarked to pay for its top 20 locations. However, he said some could be flagship stores similar to the 22,000 sq ft (2,045 sq m) outlet on London's Regent Street.

Braithwaite added that Apple plans to roll out stores in two phases across continental Europe over the next few years.

The first push includes Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy. It is hoped the first lettings will be finalised by 'the end of the year', although he would not reveal which countries Apple will be targeting in the second phase.

It is likely that Apple will follow a similar strategy to its UK push, with an initial opening followed by a series of smaller stores.