Saturday 24 January 2009

Ikea piles on the pressure ...

IKEA, WHICH will open its first Dublin branch in July, has lost in the region of €70 million in revenue as a result of a six-month delay in opening the store, the company said.

The store, the first Ikea in the State, was built last November and could have been fitted out and ready to trade from February 1st. However it was not permitted to open because of delays in upgrading the M50 motorway.

Planning permission for the 30,500sq m store near the Ballymun interchange of the M50 was granted by An Bord Pleanála in June 2007, but carried a condition that the store could not be opened until the upgrade was completed.

The National Roads Authority (NRA), which had appealed against the siting of Ikea, yesterday said it was not yet in a position to confirm when the upgrade works would be finished, but said it will not object to a July 27th opening date.

The Dublin outlet, which will create 500 jobs, would have been ready to open from the beginning of next month, store manager Garry Deakin said.

“While it was not the NRA, but An Bord Pleanála who laid down the condition, we have been working directly with them [the NRA] since we got planning permission so that the condition could be discharged.

“We have lost approximately eight months of sales. I would estimate, based on stores which have a similar catchment area, that the losses would be €65 million to €70 million in the delayed period.”

The onset of the recession meant the timing of the store’s opening was “not as good as it would have been a year ago”, Mr Deakin said. However, he said Ikea’s products were well-priced for current economic circumstances and the company was in Ireland “for the long term”.

Ikea opened its first Irish store in Belfast in December 2007 and would consider opening a third branch in Ireland, depending on the success of the Dublin and Belfast stores.

It has already filled 55 senior and junior management positions for the Dublin shop and is currently seeking another 50 supervisory staff. Its main recruitment drive for 395 shop-floor staff and other entry-level positions will begin in March.

The company has yet to finalise wages for these positions, but Mr Deakin said: “We’ll not be paying the lowest, but we’re never the top payer in the market.” Ikea’s working conditions and opportunities for career advancement made it an attractive employer, he said.

Ballymun Regeneration Ltd has welcomed the announcement of the store’s opening. “We first started talking to Ikea as far back as 1997 about locating in Ballymun and it’s a great economic boost to have a firm date for the official opening of what will be a very welcome business in the area,” said Ciarán Murray, the regeneration group’s managing director.

“Local residents can apply for the 500 jobs that the firm will bring to the area and the opening of Ikea will also make Ballymun a destination for people from all over Ireland,” he said.

Irish Times

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