“We are opening five new stores before the Chinese New Year this year,” Ahrendts told China’s state-owned news agency. “Four of the stores are in brand new cities for us.”
By Ahrendt’s count, that will bring the number of Chinese Apple Stores to 20 — halfway to Tim Cook’s target of 40 stores in China within two years.
Greater China, which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong, is Apple’s next big market. The region generated nearly $30 billion in revenue in fiscal 2014 — 16.3% of Apple’s total.
“It’s just a matter of time,” Tim Cook said last fall, before China overtakes the U.S.
Chinese New Year, which is based on a lunar calendar, falls on Feb. 19 this year.
The first of Ahrendt’s five new stores opened Saturday, Jan. 10, in Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan Province. A second store is scheduled to open Jan 24 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, a popular tourist destination.
Ahrendt’s brief extends beyond brick and mortar to Apple’s Web presence — which in China is a significant factor. “The fastest growing store for us,” she told Xinhua, “is the Apple Online Store in China.”
Nearly half of China’ s population are Internet users, according to Xinhua, putting 632 million people within a few clicks of apple.com/cn.