Ikea will boost London retail sector, executive says

With a new store looming for London, Swedish retail giant Ikea wants a seat in your living room, and maybe a peek in your cupboards.

Ikea announced Thursday it will open a full, 270,000-square-foot-store at Wellington Road and Highway 401 in 2019. But in order to sell home furnishings to London and region customers, Ikea wants to go into Londoners' homes - writes lfpress.com.

It will ask in an online survey to have staff visit about 50 homes, so it can customize its offerings to local tastes, Ikea Canada president Marsha Smith said Thursday.

“We will go into the market and look at many homes,” said Smith. “We will do a study on what it means to live here.”

The home visits can help them determine what goods to stock.

Ikea designs its rooms after home visits and looks for common “themes” and architectural features common to the area.

The new Ikea store will create up to 150 new jobs and is part of an aggressive plan to double its stores in Canada to 24. It decided on London as a site after it did a detailed analysis and liked the city’s economic growth. Ikea’s pick-up store on Wonderland Road has proven popular.

“Our collection point in London has been fantastic. It cemented the decision,” said Smith. “We did an in-depth study, and we see a lot of potential growth. There is an appetite there for Ikea.”

The London region offers a half-million customers and Ikea likes the potential to draw from neighbouring communities, as well as Windsor, she added. Its research also showed the Burlington store drew heavily from this region.

The new store is also a sign of the “growth story” of the London and area economy, said Kapil Lakhotia, chief executive of London Economic Development Corp.

“It's very exciting to finally have an Ikea here in London. London is a commercial hub and it will attract shoppers across the region.”

London this year has posted the seventh-fastest growing economy of 28 cities across Canada, according to a Conference Board of Canada report, he added.

Along with record-setting homes sales and construction, the London-area economy grew at a rate of 2.4 per cent this year, the fourth consecutive year it has been over two per cent.

The store will be built on the PenEquity site, south of Highway 401 and behind the Costco store, on a large plot of land where the firm has planned a $300-million commercial development.

Ikea will break ground this summer, with plans to open in the fall of 2019. The new store will feature showrooms, a restaurant and a children’s play facility. It will be its 15th store in Canada.

Smith downplayed a suggestion the store could hurt retail on Wellington Road, especially White Oaks Mall, saying it could draw shoppers to the area, creating a retail “lift,” she said.

“When we open a new store, it is positive for our neighbours. We spark an interest in home furnishings,” said Smith.

White Oaks Mall officials agreed, saying they welcome Ikea and believe it may create a home-furnishings hub in the city’s south end.

“We're big proponents of the value that concentrated retail nodes offer to both retail tenants and shoppers,” Jeff Wilson, its manager, said in an email.

Mayor Matt Brown also cheered the addition to the city.

“This will create jobs, growth and a regional draw to our city,” Brown said in a news release.

Read more news of London here.

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