Ikea store plans to be shaped in lo­cal liv­ing rooms


LON­DON — With a new store loom­ing for Lon­don, Swedish re­tail giant Ikea wants a seat in your liv­ing room, maybe a peek in your cup­boards.

Ikea an­nounced Thurs­day it will open a full, 270,000 square-foot store at Welling­ton Road and High­way 401 in 2019. But to sell home fur­nish­ings to Lon­don and re­gion cus­tomers, Ikea wants to go into Lon­don­ers homes.

It will ask in an on­line sur­vey to have staff visit about 50 homes, so it can cus­tom­ize its of­fer­ings to lo­cal tastes, Ikea Canada pres­i­dent Marsha Smith said Thurs­day.

“We will go into the mar­ket and look at many homes,” said Smith. “We will do a study on what it means to live here.”

The home vis­its can help them de­ter­mine what goods to stock.

Ikea de­signs its rooms af­ter home vis­its and looks for com­mon “themes” and ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures com­mon to the area.

The new Ikea store will cre­ate up to 150 new jobs and is part of an ag­gres­sive plan to dou­ble its stores in Canada to 24.

It de­cided on Lon­don as a site af­ter it did a de­tailed anal­y­sis and liked the city’s eco­nomic growth. Ikea’s pick-up store on Won­der­land Road has proven pop­u­lar.

“Our col­lec­tion point in Lon­don has been fan­tas­tic. It ce­mented the de­ci­sion,” said Smith. “We did an in-depth study, and we see a lot of po­ten­tial growth. There is an ap­petite there for Ikea.”

The Lon­don re­gion of­fers a halfmil­lion cus­tomers and Ikea likes the po­ten­tial to draw from neighbouring com­mu­ni­ties, as well as Wind­sor, she added.

Its re­search also showed the Burling­ton store drew heav­ily from this re­gion.

The new store is also a sign of the “growth story” of the Lon­don and area econ­omy, said Kapil Lakho­tia, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Lon­don Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Corp.

“It is very ex­cit­ing to fi­nally have an Ikea here in Lon­don. Lon­don is a com­mer­cial hub and it will at­tract shop­pers across the re­gion.”

Lon­don this year has posted the sev­enth-fastest grow­ing econ­omy of 28 cities across Canada, ac­cord­ing to a Con­fer­ence Board of Canada re­port, he added.

Along with record-set­ting homes sales and construction, the Lon­don-area econ­omy grew at a rate of 2.4 per cent this year, the fourth con­sec­u­tive year it has been over two per cent.

The store will be built on the PenEquity site, south of High­way 401 and be­hind the Costco store, on a large plot of land where the firm has planned a $300-mil­lion com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment.

Ikea will break ground next sum­mer, with plans to open in fall 2019. The new store will fea­ture show­rooms, a res­tau­rant and chil­dren’s play fa­cil­ity. It will be its 15th store in Canada.

Smith down­played a sug­ges­tion the store could hurt re­tail on Welling­ton Road, es­pe­cially White Oaks Mall, say­ing it could draw shop­pers to the area, cre­at­ing a re­tail “lift,” she said.

“When we open a new store, it is pos­i­tive for our neigh­bours. We spark an in­ter­est in home fur­nish­ings,” said Smith.

White Oaks Mall of­fi­cials agreed, say­ing they wel­come Ikea and be­lieve it may cre­ate a home-fur­nish­ings hub in the city’s south end.

“We are big pro­po­nents of the value that con­cen­trated re­tail nodes of­fer to both re­tail ten­ants and shop­pers,” Jeff Wil­son, store man­ager, said in an email.

Mayor Matt Brown also cheered the ad­di­tion to the city.

“This will cre­ate jobs, growth and a re­gional draw to our city,” said Brown in a re­lease. Lon­don Free Press

A site south of Welling­ton Road and High­way 401 will house a new Ikea store, seen here in an artist’s de­pic­tion.

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