Thursday 24 July 2008

Ikea says M50 upgrade will delay Dublin opening

DUBLIN'S NEW Ikea store is likely to be "mothballed" for at least seven months following its construction because of what the company says is a delay in upgrading the M50.

The distinctive blue-and-yellow frame of the 31,800sq m building has now been erected on lands bordering the M50 and St Margaret's Road in north Dublin. The company said the 56-week build is three weeks ahead of schedule.

The premises is due to be completed by January and will be ready for business from the following month. An access road is currently being built to connect it to a slip road off the M50.

However, upgrade works on the M50 will not be complete until the "tail end of next year", the National Roads Authority (NRA) said last night.

Ikea said this delay would prevent it from opening, adding that it had never experienced such a delay in opening any of its 282 stores in 36 countries. It has not yet had a store set back by more than two weeks, said Garry Deakin, Ikea's Ireland manager.

Mr Deakin said it was now his understanding that the M50 project in the area would be complete by late summer 2009 and he commented that Ikea was "unhappy" about this.

He stressed relations with the NRA were very good, but said Ikea would be very happy if contractors could "accelerate their works" on the M50 to allow Ikea to open early next year.

Mr Deakin said Ikea had 475 permanent jobs to offer in Dublin, but could not advertise the posts until it could confirm an opening date with the NRA.

He said the construction cost for the new store, which is bigger than the one in Belfast, is between €105 million and €110 million and some 45 management personnel had been hired already.

A spokesman for the NRA said that the M50 improvement works were "paramount to the functionality" of the motorway and the enhancement was being done to satisfy the taxpayer and not any private companies.

He added: "The NRA is adhering to [ its] schedule to complete the upgrade to the M50 . . . we are doing our best to get it done as soon as possible."

Ikea said it was confident it would attract some 2.75 million customers to the Dublin branch in year one, despite an economic downturn. Mr Deakin said that the firm had been trading since 1943 through various economic cycles and the Ikea range was "strong in a downturn because it is pitched at that end of the market".

Ikea is also investing €1.75 million into environmental processes at the store to include a €117,000 facility whereby rainwater from the roof will be collected in a 40ft tank and then filtered for use in flushing the toilets.

Concrete from a former flat block in Ballymun has been used as bulk filling to level the land on the 12.7 hectare site. The store will include a 500-seat restaurant, a bistro, a cafe and a Swedish food hall as well as a free creche. It will have more than 1,500 parking spaces and will carry almost 10,000 products.

Mr Deakin said the company had been involved in extensive consultation with nearby residents in the St Margaret's Road area to minimise disruption to them during construction.

The Irish Times

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