© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tolga Oncu, head of retail at Ingka group which owns most IKEA stores worldwide, speaks with his staff after his interview with Reuters inside an IKEA store in Mumbai, India, November 28, 2022. REUTERS/Abhirup Roy/File Photo
By Marie Mannes
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – IKEA stores owner Ingka group has announced the official start of work on its delayed first store in New Zealand, which it predicts will be followed by other outlets as the Asia-Pacific region recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and macro-economic shocks.
In a filing in 2022 the company referred to a proposed opening date of December 2024, but the store in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, is now expected to open late in 2025.
Head of Retail at Ingka group Tolga Oncu told Reuters preliminary opening dates were often subject to change.
“These are long projects so quite often the original intent of when you actually can open doesn’t become the reality,” Oncu said, adding that the macro-economic situation in the last three years has been extraordinary.
Oncu said Asia is a fast growing market – with the latest six-to-eight months showing a positive development – helped by China’s reopening after COVID-19.
Asked about possible stores in other parts of New Zealand, Oncu said he did not expect the one in Auckland to be enough.
“So one can expect that IKEA in the long term is going to continue to look for opportunities to expand in New Zealand,” he said.
Although the store will be geographically furthest away from IKEA’s main operations in Europe, Ingka said the company could mitigate the logistics impact through existing operations in Australia.
“We have learned how to manage that, how to become more effective, efficient, more sustainable, but of course I can’t shy away from the fact that every kilometre comes with a price tag,” Oncu said.
Globally, there are more than 450 IKEA stores, most of which are owned by the Ingka group. The rest are controlled by other franchisees.
The group was hard hit by supply chain issues and raw materials costs linked to the pandemic as one of the world’s biggest users of wood.