IKEA bosses will be in town this Friday as speculation mounts over where the first store will be located.
The world's largest furniture retailer, whose stores got 838 million visitors in the latest financial year, makes its New Zealand debut in just three days' time when executives will announce further information at a launch event.
International executives from the global giant will host a morning function in downtown Auckland, with a presentation expected from top boss and chief executive Jesper Brodin, previously managing director of IKEA of Sweden, responsible for the development of the product range and supply chain.
But it is unknown whether the executives will say where the first New Zealand store will be, if it will operate traditional big-box formats or smaller stores and what its longer-term plans are here.
Speculation is it could open at Westgate. Campbell Barbour, general manager of landowner New Zealand Retail Property Group, said last month: "The site is a great location because it's got motorway connections and it's a new metropolitan town centre for Auckland."
On December 20, invitations were sent to the official launch of IKEA in New Zealand.
"Please join Jesper Brodin, IKEA global CEO, as he unveils the first details on the arrival of IKEA to New Zealand," the invitation said.
"Inter IKEA Systems V.V. has announced its intentions to grant the Ingka Group had the exclusive rights to explore expansion opportunities in New Zealand," an IKEA executive in Australia told the Herald last month.
Ingka Group is one of 11 different groups of companies that own and operate IKEA sales channels under franchise agreements with IKEA, she said.
"It is the world's largest home furnishing retailer, operating 367 IKEA stores in 30 markets. These IKEA stores had 838 million visits during FY18," she said.
Tolga Oncu, retail operations manager for Ingka Group, said last month the company plans to make a long-term commitment to New Zealand as it expands into this part of the world.
Facebook group "IKEA is Coming to NZ", with 18,531 followers, is asking fans to share a photo of their favourite IKEA products or a story about an IKEA experience.
Reuters reported last April how IKEA was seeing the surge in e-commerce and home delivery which it said might dim the appeal of its classic out-of-town warehouse stores but that the business had flagged how it might add full-range city-centre showrooms to its offerings.
Warehouse founder and philanthropist Sir Stephen Tindall last month praised the business.
"IKEA are an absolutely world-class company. They do well wherever they go. I think they'll be a big success in New Zealand," Tindall predicted.
"The thing I really love about them is that they are putting sustainability at the front and centre," said Tindall, whose Tindall Foundation has invested heavily in environmental projects, including the planting of more than 22 million trees. "So they're a great example of what can be done in retail."
New Zealand is yet to appear on website IKEA.com.