Renewed hope for NZ Ikea

ELLEN READ
Last updated 15:23 28/02/2014

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New rumours have surfaced that Swedish furniture chain Ikea is planning to set up shop in New Zealand.

Previous rumours have not panned out. In 2011 there was talk of an Ikea for Westgate shopping mall in West Auckland.

This week a Bring Ikea to New Zealand Facebook page is humming with comments after a weekend post saying that Ikea NZ will be located in Hobsonville in 18-24 months.

The page moderator, Justin Flitter, said he was messaged through the page that a store was planned for west Auckland near Hobsonville.

"The person said their friend was working on the building designs for the new site which is yet to break ground," he said.

"These claims are unsubstantiated and I have not seen resource consent from the council or heard any official word from Ikea franchise owners in Australia to confirm or deny this."

Ikea Australia, which has five stores across the Tasman, did not deny the rumour, saying only that "IKEA Australia has no news regarding IKEA stores in New Zealand".

The company has previously said it reviews its store sites annually.

Ikea is popular overseas for its large mega centres, which stock cheap furniture and designer goods.

Tristram Whimp, manager of Auckland shop Myflatpack - one of New Zealand's major stockist of Ikea products - had heard nothing from Ikea.

"As New Zealand's first and largest reseller of Ikea products, we have a very close understanding of what Ikea's expansion plans are likely to be.

"Until we receive confirmation from Ikea that they are opening a fully blown outlet in New Zealand, we'll continue to grow our brand and product range," Whimp said.   

The strongest previous rumour centered on the Westgate mall (near Hobsonville), but New Zealand Retail Property Group (NZRPG), which manages Westgate, played down the new talk today.

"I believe it's unsubstantiated," NZPRG general manager Campbell Barbour said.

"I would probably know about it by now [if it was coming to Westgate]," he added, referring to the 18-24 month time frame for arrival given on the Facebook page.

Barbour did say that lots of development work was going on at Westgate as, after years of talk, it prepared for the arrival of several "bulk retailers".

Foodstuffs, DNZ Property Trust, Mitre 10 and Auckland Council were all actively developing sites there, he said.

"It would be rude not to," he said when asked if NZRPG would be interested in hosting an Ikea store.

It was reported in 2011 that Cebas - the Ikea franchise holder in Australia that also has the rights to open the first official branch in New Zealand - may have postponed opening in New Zealand due to the small market and poor economic conditions.

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"What's super interesting is the debate a store like this creates and the level of passionate potential customers there are in New Zealand just waiting for Ikea to open here," Flitter said of his Facebook pages, which has more than 13,600 'likes'.


- Fairfax Media

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