After an inordinate amount of hype and years of heart-stopping “Is it coming? Is it not?”, the world’s largest furniture and home furnishings retailer, Ikea, has held a press conference, ostensibly to announce details about the company’s arrival in New Zealand.
Around 100 breathless journalists, Ikea supporters and Scandinavian dignitaries arrived at the Cloud in Auckland to be told: there will be meatballs.
But not much more.
“Without being specific, it’s a dream, but we don’t have a plan yet,” said Jesper Brodin, president and CEO of the Ingka Group, which holds the franchise for Ikea in New Zealand and other parts of the world.
“We are at the start of the process. It’s too premature to be specific,” said market potential development manager Will Edwards.
So here’s what we know:
When: The first Ikea store in New Zealand will be open “within a few years” – more than two, less than 10.
Where: The first “iconic” full-service blue and yellow store will be somewhere in Auckland. Precise location still to be decided. Next up: the South Island, though what format that presence will take isn’t known. After that: heading north again.
What: The full monty – 7,000 Ikea home furnishing and click-together kitchen products.
How big: Internationally, Ikea has big stores – like, 25,000 square-metres – and boutique ones (less than 1,000sqm). Auckland will get the full concept store, Edwards says, though future ones in other cities will probably be smaller.
How much will Ikea spend: There’s been speculation an Ikea franchise licence costs around $35 million and the company would be looking at around $90 million to build a full-service store here. Edwards says Ikea is close to putting a price tag on the build, but he isn’t giving anything away.
How many people does Ikea expect to come through the doors: Millions.
Will there be an online offering: Yes. Digital Ikea in New Zealand is planned to start on or around the same date as physical Ikea NZ.
Will stuff be as cheap as in Australian stores: Maybe, maybe not, but New Zealanders will get “the very best prices”.
What will happen to existing parallel importers: “We will have a dialogue” Edwards says. Which appears to mean they will be nudged out once Ikea arrives.
Will there be a creche: No, but there will likely be a play area. And kids can jump on the sofas.
Will there be meatballs: Definitely. Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad famously said it’s hard to do business on an empty stomach. There will be food.
Any other definites? Ikea was founded in Sweden 76 years ago and has 400 stores in 50 countries. It’s been in Australia for more than 40 years.