Discussions have been held with people associated with Swedish furniture giant Ikea about moving into the Nido premises in Henderson, a director of its landlord says.
Hāwera accountant Mark Hughson, also a director of a company which owns the Nido premises, said Nido's viability as a retail operation was unclear and other leasing options had been examined including to Ikea which announced two years ago it would open in New Zealand.
That included talking to the European business about the possibility it could take over the 100-showroom 2.7ha store with around 600 carparks off Lincoln Rd, Hughson said.
The property occupied by Nido (Italian for nest) could be rented to other tenants if Nido did not stay, he said.
"There've been some conversations with Ikea but nothing concrete yet. Ikea has certainly talked about coming to New Zealand for some time and maybe this is an opportunity, who knows?" Hughson said.
He indicated a so-far unclear performance by Nido since it opened in early June, partly due to Covid lockdowns and late delivery of the premises in the venture developed by Fijian migrant Vinod Kumar.
"We've had an early assessment saying it's not hitting the targets Vinod had originally been told was achievable. But we've also had a report saying the business is viable so we just have to work out how viable it is under what circumstances," he said.
Hughson is a director of Central Park Property Investment which owns the Nido land and buildings, leased to Magsons Hardware directed by Vinod Kumar.
Asked what investors in the Maat Group landlord were being told about the premises and the stability of their multi-million dollar investments, Hughson said: "Not much at the moment because we are still working out what's the best way forward. We're looking at all options to see what's best for investors. We have people in there to verify exactly where things are at."
Hughson said most of the investors who were his clients were retired farmers.
Two farmers, each with $1m invested in Central Park Property Investment, this week expressed alarm that another Kumar-directed entity, Vijay Holdings, had gone into liquidation. That company built the Nido store and was nearly finished building its carpark when it went under.
Kumar wrote to creditors a few weeks ago saying he couldn't pay them right away and asking them not to take legal action.
In January, the Herald reported how a year after announcing its New Zealand plans, local property experts said Ikea had eyed a number of sites around Auckland.
One local property owner said the business showed an interest in a vast, flat site in a rapidly expanding area with excellent motorway access, only a few minutes' drive from the city's CBD.
A multimillionaire Auckland real estate investor told the Herald he knew Ikea had looked at a Mt Wellington site just off the Southern Motorway, across from New Zealand's biggest shopping centre, Sylvia Park.
But Ikea won't respond to the speculation, confirming only that it was still looking into opportunities since announcing its intention to launch in New Zealand on January 11 last year.
"We are currently exploring opportunities in New Zealand and look forward to sharing more information when it's available," a spokesperson said.
In January 2019, Ikea boss Jesper Brodin and market leader Will Edwards were in Auckland to announce that Kiwis would get the "full Ikea experience".
A megastore with 7000 products and a restaurant would be in Auckland, though they did not specify where or when it will be built. It will also launch an online shop and has plans for another store outside New Zealand's biggest city.
But they did say Kiwis would have to wait years for that store to be built. In the meantime, it would bring a pop-up shop to give "consumers a taste of what's to come".
The flagship store would be located in Auckland but Brodin said the whole nation would be able to access the products through online delivery. The executives wouldn't confirm where the megastore would be located but said there were "many sites of interest" up for consideration.
Ikea has so far not announced where it will open and no temporary or pop-up premises have materialised either.