Ikea is finally coming to Auckland but it was once banned from opening at one Mount Wellington site because of traffic concerns.
When the Environment Court gave approval to developer Tony Gapes' Redwood Group in 2008 to build shops opposite Sylvia Park, a judge specifically excluded Ikea from the location.
That was because its stores were so popular the court feared traffic chaos would ensue.
"Ikea stores are known to have high traffic-generating characteristics," the Environment Court ruled in allowing the shopping centre.
"Accordingly, they have been specifically excluded from allowable retail activities in this consent."
The Swedish retail giant today confirmed its first store will open in Auckland but has remained tight-lipped on details of when, exactly where and the logistics of the megastore.
The furniture retailer, which was founded in Almhult in the 1940s, has yet to lock in a location for its Auckland flagship store, which when complete will feature a Swedish-inspired restaurant and children's play area.
While the wait until it opens looks lengthy as Ikea has to build the site which could take between three and 10 years, once the first is open the retailer will look to accelerate its rate of expansion across the country.
After Auckland, Ikea will open a store in the South Island.
Ikea Group global CEO Jesper Brodin said the retailer had big plans for the New Zealand market but would not elaborate on whether those would take form in a physical or digital format.
"In most of the markets we have been fairly slow, our mode of expansion was normally only the big stores, so it has taken us years to reach people in all parts of a market, including in Sweden where we started.
"The dream and ambition is to start day one and reach as many people as possible, if not all at once - it's a very ambitious dream but that's what we're going to go for," Brodin said.
"New Zealand's going to be the coolest place for Ikea."
Ikea was at the very beginning of its entrance into the market, and had not yet finalised a location for the first store, the company's development project manager and market lead Will Edwards said.
"There are many locations that fit the right criteria," he said.
Edwards would not elaborate on which Auckland locations were being considering but said Ikea, which is considered the largest furniture retailer in the world, was working closely with the Government to make a decision.
"Our ambition is to move as fast as possible from now on," Brodin said.
Ikea will hire about 200 people for the Auckland store, and offer its full range of 7000 products - like its big-box stores in other markets.
"What we're doing in Ikea right now is we're actually exploring new formats ... we're currently doing more than 20 tests of different sizes, that's us trying to kind of discover what is relevant," Brodin said.
"As we are testing that, which is going to coincide with the opening in New Zealand, we will observe what really works and then we will curiously look into bringing complementary concepts to New Zealand. That will be the way we look at not only the North Island but actually the whole of New Zealand."