After years of speculation, it's finally been confirmed: Swedish furniture store Ikea is opening in New Zealand.
The company announced today its intentions to grant the Ingka Group exclusive rights to explore expansion opportunities in New Zealand.
"We are happy to meet the wish from many people for IKEA to open in New Zealand and we aim to make IKEA fully accessible, including stores and ecommerce," said Tolga Öncü, retail operations manager for Ingka Group.
"We see this as a long-term commitment and investment in New Zealand, building relationships with customers, suppliers and future co-workers."
A source said this morning that developers had been eyeing a greenfields site of 5ha-plus.
If those numbers are right, that would mean the IKEA would be larger than malls of 50,000sq m.
But Sylvia Park had been ruled out because although it was far from fully developed, it was not big enough for an IKEA store like that which is being planned for Auckland, the source said.
"The group's been looking west and south," the source said. But west might be best because the part of Westgate which is largely undeveloped, between the PakNSave supermarket at the city end and the Mitre 10 at the northern end offers plentiful opportunities for such a big store with more than 1000 carparks.
The site is flat and accessible from the North Western Motorway, so consenting or planning applications would not be difficult.
Campbell Barbour of NZ Retail Property Group agreed this morning that Westgate was ideal for a big store such as Ikea. The green fields site was more than 50ha of which about 20ha is yet to be developed.
"The site is a great location because it's got motorway connections and it's a new metropolitan town centre for Auckland so getting large-scale international activities here like that is an important part of what we're doing, rather than putting them in more stand-alone locations where they are not supported by public transport, infrastructure, other retail activities and services," Barbour said.
Tim Male, CBRE national director of retail advisory and transaction services in Auckland, said he knew people had come to New Zealand recently to look at opportunities for opening an Ikea.
"My understanding is they've met with all the major landlords but we're not involved. Ikea has been looking at the market for the last two or three years," Male said.
However, he could not confirm whether Ikea had held discussions with NZ Retail Property Group.
Ikea was founded in 1943 in Älmhult, Sweden, by 17-year-old carpenter Ingvar Kamprad, who died earlier this year at the age of 91.
Its flatpak furniture products, which requires the customer to assemble what they purchased at home, has become a pop culture reference that often features in films and TV shows.
Over its 75-year history, it has grown into the world's largest furniture retailer, employing over 200,000 staff across hundreds of stores spread across 49 countries.
As part of its international expansion plans, the company announced earlier this year that it would open the world's largest Ikea in Manila to grow its share of the Asian market.
Bloomberg reported the Philippines store would open in 2020, spanning across a 65,000 square metre space in the Mall of Asia.
The company also debuted the first of 25 stores in India in August and also announced plans to open a store in Tokyo in 2020.
Ikea has through its rapid growth and market dominance garnered a cult following internationally.