Ikea NZ plans to rapidly ex­pand

Weekend Herald - - News - Aimee Shaw

Swedish re­tail giant Ikea took its time to launch in New Zealand but says once it opens its Auckland mega­s­tore it will ac­cel­er­ate its ex­pan­sion into other parts of the coun­try.

The fur­ni­ture re­tailer, which was founded in Almhult in the 1940s, has yet to lock in a lo­ca­tion for its Auckland flag­ship store, which when com­plete will fea­ture a Swedish-in­spired restau­rant and chil­dren’s play area.

The wait un­til it opens looks lengthy as Ikea has to build the site, which could take be­tween three and 10 years.

Af­ter Auckland, the com­pany will then open a store in the South Is­land.

Ikea Group global CEO Jes­per Brodin said the re­tailer had big plans for the New Zealand mar­ket but would not elab­o­rate on whether those would be in a phys­i­cal or dig­i­tal for­mat.

“In most of the mar­kets we have been fairly slow, our mode of ex­pan­sion was nor­mally only the big stores, so it has taken us years to reach peo­ple in all parts of a mar­ket, in­clud­ing in Swe­den where we started.

“The dream and am­bi­tion is to start day one and reach as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble, if not all at once — it’s a very am­bi­tious dream but that’s what we’re go­ing to go for,” Brodin said. “New Zealand’s go­ing to be the coolest place for Ikea.”

“Our am­bi­tion is to move as fast as pos­si­ble from now on,” Brodin said.

Ikea is set to hire around 200 peo­ple for the Auckland store, and will of­fer its full range of 7000 prod­ucts — like its big-box stores in other mar­kets.

“What we’re do­ing in Ikea right now is we’re ac­tu­ally ex­plor­ing new for­mats . . . we’re cur­rently do­ing more than 20 tests of dif­fer­ent sizes, that’s us try­ing to kind of dis­cover what is rel­e­vant,” Brodin said.

“As we are test­ing that, which is go­ing to co­in­cide with the open­ing in New Zealand, we will ob­serve what re­ally works and then we will cu­ri­ously look into bring­ing com­ple­men­tary con­cepts to New Zealand. That will be the way we look at not only the North Is­land but ac­tu­ally the whole of New Zealand.”

The com­pany’s devel­op­ment project man­ager and mar­ket lead Will Ed­wards would not elab­o­rate on which Auckland lo­ca­tions were be­ing con­sid­ered but said Ikea, con­sid­ered the largest fur­ni­ture re­tailer in the world, was work­ing closely with the Govern­ment to make a de­ci­sion.

“Ikea New Zealand is not Ikea Aus­tralia . . . there’s more than 40 years of Ikea ex­pe­ri­ence sit­ting in Aus­tralia that we will draw learnings from but we will de­sign the of­fer here to fit New Zealand,” Ed­wards said.

“Since this is the lat­est mar­ket that we’re open­ing in we’ll take all learnings we have across the Ikea world and try to bring it at the same time to New Zealand.”

Ikea be­lieves its New Zealand launch will have a “sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic im­pact”.

Ikea will launch a pop-up store ahead of the flag­ship store open­ing. It did not share de­tails on when, where or for how long the pop-up shop will op­er­ate. The re­tailer also plans to of­fer its en­tire range through its online store — once the flag­ship store opens.

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