‘Big ambitions’ | 

Ikea gearing up to open another major outlet in Ireland

Retail giant’s Ballymun store in Dublin now the world’s busiest Ikea by volume

Ikea's Ballymun outlet will welcome its 40 millionth visitor this year. Photo: Mip.ie

John MulliganIndependent.ie

SWEDISH retail giant Ikea is gearing up to open another major outlet in Ireland, the Irish Independent has learned.

It could open within the next couple of years.

Its Ballymun outlet on Dublin’s northside is now officially the busiest Ikea store in the world – selling a higher volume of goods than any other store in the global network. It sells about 5pc more items that the nearest rival – a store in the chain’s birthplace of Stockholm.

Ikea’s store in Ballymun – which opened in 2009 - generated sales of €216.7m in the year to the end of August 2022, up 14pc on the previous period. It employs 730 people and this year is expected to welcome its 40 millionth visitor. Three million people visited the Ballymun store during the 12 months to the end of last August.

The retailer has just one large-scale store in Ireland and another in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It also has an order and collection point in Carrickmines, in south Dublin. The southside of the capital could emerge as a prime candidate for the new store.

Ikea is also planning to open a major new distribution centre within the next couple of years in Ireland. It will also be in the Dublin area and will extend over about 20,000 sq m (215,000 sq ft) and employ more than 100 people.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Ikea executive Marsha Smith confirmed the group wants to open a new outlet in Ireland to complement its existing operation here.

“We have big ambitions for Ireland and we want to be able to meet everybody that wants to shop with us,” she said on Thursday as Ikea revealed the performance of its Irish operation in its last financial year.

Ms Smith is the country deputy retail manager, Ikea UK and Ireland. She once managed the Ballymun outlet and lived in Ireland for a number of years.

“Personally, there’s always a need for another Ikea – I’m always going to say that,” she said. “The brand is loved here. Yes, we would love another store. There’s more and more of an argument for expansion.”

“It’s fair to say that after years of dreaming, hopefully now we can move a bit closer to actually making it a reality in the coming couple of years,” she added.

Ms Smith said: “Having lived here for many years, it’s definitely a personal affinity with seeing that happening as soon as possible. It’s always been a dream that we would have more than one store and that we would have this bigger offer for the whole of Ireland.”

“The population is growing, it’s a fantastic country to be present in and we have to make that happen,” she explained.

Ms Smith said the retailer would be driven by demographics in choosing its next location.

“We’ve had a second, smaller unit in Carrickmines for a few yeas now and that does really, really well,” she said. “There’s such a huge concentration of people in south Dublin. There’s also some areas where we’ve seen population growth. Whenever we make any decisions, we are very, very data-based. We go wherever the business case is strongest.”

Ireland has also been used as a test-bed for Ikea’s so-called ‘Plan and Order Points’. Two are currently open, on Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green and in Naas, Co Kildare. They’ve performed strongly and another will open this spring in Drogheda, Co Louth, with two others to follow: in Cork and Portlaoise.

Some 30pc of Ikea’s sales are generated online in Ireland now. That compares to 16pc in 2019, before the pandemic struck and a 52pc figure that was recorded during the crisis, in its 2021 financial year.

Ms Smith said the online sales figure is comparable to the 35pc seen in the UK and higher than what where the group thought it would settle.

The company didn’t release a profit figure for the 12-month period that ended last August, but Ms Smith said the figure was heading back towards pre-pandemic levels. In the 2021 financial year, Ikea’s Irish arm made a €3.76m pre-tax profit, up just slightly on the previous year.

She said that the Ballymun store is the biggest seller of children’s furniture in the global Ikea network, and that sales of items such as storage products, textiles, kitchen and dining equipment performing strongly.

The housing crisis is also affecting what people buy.

“We know that across Ireland, there is some challenge on housing generally, and typically more people are sharing the same space,” said Ms Smith. “Storage, across the board, has seen a really big increase.”

“We’re definitely seeing a bigger trend in kitchens – massive growth so far this year,” she pointed out, adding that affordability is one of the factors driving those sales.

Ms Smith said that while inflation is affecting consumers and businesses, Ikea still represents value for money.

“A family of four can eat for under €10 [in Ikea],” she pointed out. “I don’t think there are many places in Ireland where you can say that.”

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