THE manager of a new Ikea store which will employ 500 people has expressed confidence that it will open on time next month.
The Swedish furniture shop cannot open for business until routes around its north Dublin site are upgraded, and the National Roads Authority (NRA) admitted this week that it would be a "surprise" if the work was completed by the July 27 opening date.
But store manager Garry Deakin told the Irish Independent yesterday that "all parties were aware" of the opening date agreed last January, and that he shared the confidence of Fingal County Council -- which is responsible for ensuring the network is complete -- that the work would be done on time.
"We agreed the opening date of July 27 when in discussions in early January," Mr Deakin said.
"All parties are aware of it. I understand the difficulties they have because on their timeline they would like Ikea to wait for a 28-day notice period and they would say, 'from 28 days tomorrow it will be done'. But Ikea needs a seven-month lead-in time to recruit 500 people and develop them.
"So we've always had this dilemma. The last thing anyone wanted, including the Roads Authority, was for Ikea to remain closed for another five months [after a notice period].
"I met with both parties last week, and I'm confident that Ikea will open its doors at 11am on July 27."
The off-ramps from the M50 near the Ballymun interchange of the M50 are still under construction, and there is substantial roadworks yet to be completed around the massive store.
A 'town hall' meeting held in the store yesterday, and attended by EU Commission vice president Margot Wallstrom, showcased that the inside of the store is almost complete.
However, a number of approach roads remain closed off.
"What we don't want and what won't be good for the island is if the consumer is thinking, 'Is Ikea opening or not'?" Mr Deakin said.
"Ikea would have been happy to see the Dublin store opening on the same day as the Belfast store 18 months ago, but it wasn't possible."
A batch of 160 staff is due to begin next Monday, another 160 the following Wednesday, and another 80 the following Monday as induction begins in earnest at the store.
And those who have taken the trip to the Belfast store will feel immediately at home in the new venue, which is slightly bigger at 31,800 sqm, but has an almost identical layout.
"Worldwide, once you are inside an Ikea store you don't know which part of the world you're in," Mr Deakin said.
"Once we are open, you will think we are in Belfast. But having said that, we will have different room sets -- the latest ones worldwide."
There will be about 55 'rooms' set out on the second floor, featuring in the region of 9,500 Ikea products which can be collected by customers on the first floor. Ground floor is parking.