Construction of New Zealand’s first Ikea store is finally starting today, with the shop planned to be the size of three rugby fields.
Mirja Viinanen, Ikea NZ and Australia chief executive and chief sustainability officer, is here to announce that construction of the Swedish homeware giant’s first store here has begun, and is set to open in late 2025.
Back in 2019, the chain said it was coming but it’s taken four years to even get to this point of initial earthworks.
It will be six years by the time doors open, according to current plans. It was 2018 when the company announced its intentions to grant the Ingka Group exclusive rights to explore expansion opportunities in New Zealand.
But according to Fabian Winterbine, Australia and NZ expansion manager who accompanied Viinanen to Auckland this week, that timing is nothing unusual.
“It’s been a long time coming. It’s typical. For a new market, it’s a short amount of time. Historically, it’s taken a lot longer than that to open in a new market,” he said.
And yes, an iconic Swedish restaurant serving the homeware giant’s famous meatballs and hotdogs is also planned when it opens.
A traditional big, blue box large-format store of 34,000sq m will sell the latest design and home furnishing.
Naylor Love has been appointed construction project manager and Winterbine said it would oversee construction of the store, designed by Australian architects to standards there.
Naylor Love has also been head contractor on many recent projects from NZX listed landlord Kiwi Property Group which is selling Ikea the land across the railway tracks from the Sylvia Park shopping centre.
That same builder is working on the three-tower 295-unitn $200m build to rent apartments at Sylvia Park, built the 60 new Galleria upstairs shops within the mall, and the new $63m office block and medical centre at 3 Te Kehu Way. That last project was designed by Woods Bagot and Peddlethorp, it is called Geneva House, after its head tenant.
Winterbine said Ikea Auckland would be different to the 10 stores the chain operates in Australia due to its seismic rating for earthquakes.
Tolga Öncü, head of Ikea retail for Ingka Group, said: “New Zealand felt like a missing piece for Ikea.”
The shop will be three levels high, with a ground-level car park, so the store takes up two levels.
A Swedish Restaurant and Bistro will serve meatballs and hot dogs, with plant-based versions of the Swedish favourites as well as food containing meat.
Winterbine said the ground floor would be parking and the store would be on levels one and two. A 34,000sq m store is on the larger side for Australasia, bigger than Ikea stores in Adelaide and Sydney’s Marsden Park.
But Ikea in Auckland will be smaller than the 39,000sq m giant in Sydney’s Tempe.
Although earthworks are starting, Ikea doesn’t yet even own the site. Winterbine said the purchasing entity, Ikea NZ, doesn’t plan to do so until Kiwi fulfils certain terms of the contract.
“We’ve reached an agreement, it’s no longer conditional,” he said of the land deal, referring to site preparation works before foundations can be laid.
“We will own it in the coming months. We’re working very closely with Kiwi Property and they’re preparing the land so we can start construction.”
Ikea Auckland has been designed to achieve a five Green Star rating. Winterbine cited LED lighting to cut energy use, solar panels to produce all the electricity needed, electric charging stations in the carparking areas and rainwater recycling systems.
Clive Mackenzie, Kiwi chief executive, said New Zealanders had been waiting for Ikea to arrive “so it’s fantastic that construction is now under way”.
As for today’s on-site celebrations, iwi were holding a blessing this morning and then an old European custom was scheduled - the traditional Swedish Fika or ritual coming together over food.