Swe­den will come to Hal­i­fax

One of a dozen new stores slated for Canada over next decade

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Ikea has an­nounced plans to build a full-size store in the Hal­i­fax area, the first of 12 new stores the Scan­di­na­vian fur­ni­ture chain will roll out across Canada over the next decade.

Stefan Sjos­trand, the pres­i­dent of IKEA Canada, said the 30,472 square-me­tre store will be lo­cated in the Dart­mouth Cross­ing retail area and will in­clude a show­room, play­room and restau­rant fea­tur­ing the com­pany's sig­na­ture Swedish meat­balls.

“I got mail from the peo­ple liv­ing in Hal­i­fax, in Nova Sco­tia, ask­ing us to open up a store in the area, and I'm very thrilled to be able to make this an­nounce­ment for the peo­ple liv­ing here,” said Sjos­trand in an in­ter­view prior to the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment in Hal­i­fax on Fri­day.

Con­struc­tion is ex­pected to start this sum­mer and will take roughly 14 to 16 months to com­plete, said Sjos­trand.

He said the de­ci­sion to set up shop in Hal­i­fax came af­ter more than a year of site vis­its and con­sul­ta­tions and was based on fac­tors such as pop­u­la­tion and lo­ca­tion ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

“It's im­por­tant that we're close to where the main traf­fic is, so we can reach as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble,” said Sjos­trand, who is orig­i­nally from Swe­den.

“There was also a site ready for us, so that speeded up the process to be­come the first stop on this fan­tas­tic ex­pan­sion jour­ney we have in front of us.”

Sjos­trand wouldn't say if there are more Ikea stores in At­lantic Canada's fu­ture. But he said he be­lieves peo­ple will travel from across the re­gion to visit the Hal­i­fax store.

“The com­bi­na­tion of our knowl­edge of how peo­ple live their lives at home, and our in­spi­ra­tion, low prices and qual­ity, it gives cus­tomers rea­sons to visit our stores,” said Sjos­trand.

The of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment prompted plenty of pos­i­tive re­ac­tion on so­cial me­dia, fol­low­ing a two-day flurry of spec­u­la­tion that be­gan min­utes af­ter Ikea first said it was about to un­veil plans for Hal­i­fax.

“I hope this is a life­long re­la­tion­ship, Ikea, and not just a one night stand like that jerk Tar­get,” tweeted Hal­i­fax user ↕Lau­raORourke, re­fer­ring to Tar­get's short-lived foray into the Cana­dian mar­ket.

“New IKEA store would open by the end of this year, but they're hav­ing prob­lems fol­low­ing the in­struc­tions to assem­ble it,” noted the bloggers be­hind ↕NSTrea­sures.

At least one Hal­i­fax res­i­dent seized the op­por­tu­nity to spite the city's re­gional ri­val of Monc­ton, N.B.

“IKEA com­ing to Hal­i­fax. Full store. Up yours Monc­ton!” posted ↕war­ren­haight.

The new store marks the re­turn of Ikea to the prov­ince. The chain opened its first Cana­dian store in Hal­i­fax about 40 years ago but it closed sev­eral years later.

He said the new store will be its most sus­tain­able in Canada, with rooftop so­lar pan­els pro­vid­ing elec­tric­ity to the build­ing, a geo­ther­mal en­ergy gen­er­a­tion sys­tem for heat­ing and cool­ing and LED light­ing through­out the store.

“It's so im­por­tant to work to­wards sus­tain­abil­ity. Sus­tain­abil­ity should not be a lux­ury for a few, it should be avail­able to many,” said Sjos­trand, adding that Ikea sold more than one mil­lion LED bulbs in Canada over the past year.

“If we can sup­port our cus­tomers to live a more sus­tain­able life at home, that could have a huge im­pact on their en­vi­ron­ment.”

Sjos­trand said the com­pany is aim­ing to be en­ergy in­de­pen­dent by 2020.

An Ikea rep­re­sen­ta­tive said via email that store em­ploy­ees would be paid a base salary that is five per cent above the Cana­dian retail in­dus­try stan­dard.

Stephanie Kerr said Ikea also pro­vides em­ploy­ees with a re­tire­ment sav­ings pro­gram known as TACK! – “thank you” in Swedish – as well as a bonus pro­gram and health spend­ing ac­count.

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