Apple Inc said on Thursday it plans to open 40 to 50 retail stores next year as the consumer electronics giant expands its reach to customers.

More than half of the new stores will be outside the United States, with new outlets planned in London, Paris and two in Shanghai.

Speaking ahead of a store opening in New York, Ron Johnson, Apple's senior vice president of retail, said the company expects the holiday selling season to be a good one.

Apple now operates 280 stores in 10 countries.

The stores, first launched in 2001, have proved to be hugely popular with consumers. Apple hosted 45.9 million store visitors during the September quarter, up 7 percent from a year earlier.

The stores posted revenue of $1.87 billion in the quarter, their highest level ever and up 9 percent from a year earlier.

Shares of Cupertino, California-based Apple rose 52 cents to $203.77 in late-morning trade on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Clare Baldwin; additional reporting by Gabriel Madway in San Francisco; editing by John Wallace)