After years of speculation, it's finally been confirmed: Swedish furniture store Ikea is opening in New Zealand.
The company announced today its intentions to grant the Ingka Group exclusive rights to explore expansion opportunities in New Zealand.
"We are happy to meet the wish from many people for IKEA to open in New Zealand and we aim to make IKEA fully accessible, including stores and ecommerce," said Tolga Öncü, retail operations manager for Ingka Group.
"We see this as a long-term commitment and investment in New Zealand, building relationships with customers, suppliers and future co-workers,"
Alan Tribe of Perth owns the franchise rights to bring IKEA to New Zealand and one source said this morning he had been in Auckland recently.
"He's looking for a greenfields site of 5ha-plus," the source said. 'He's been talking to real estate agents and wants to build a big-box, stand-alone building."
If those numbers are right, that would mean the IKEA would be larger than malls of 50,000sq m.
"There's been noise in the market about IKEA moving here," the source said. "Tribe has been in the country and looking around at sites."
But Sylvia Park had been ruled out because although it was far from fully developed, it was not big enough for an IKEA store like that which is being planned for Auckland, the source said.
"He's been looking west and south," the source said. But west might be best because the part of Westgate which is largely undeveloped, between the PakNSave supermarket at the city end and the Mitre 10 at the northern end offers plentiful opportunities for such a big store with more than 1000 carparks.
The site is flat and accessible from the North Western Motorway, so consenting or planning applications would not be difficult.
The area is zoned for big-box retail and will be home to another 40,000 homes in the next few years.
Ikea was founded in 1943 in Älmhult, Sweden, by 17-year-old carpenter Ingvar Kamprad, who died earlier this year at the age of 91.
Its flatpak furniture products, which requires the customer to assemble what they purchased at home, has become a pop culture reference that often features in films and TV shows.
Over its 75-year history, it has grown into the world's largest furniture retailer, employing over 200,000 staff across hundreds of stores spread across 49 countries.
As part of its international expansion plans, the company announced earlier this year that it would open the world's largest Ikea in Manila to grow its share of the Asian market.
Bloomberg reported the Philippines store would open in 2020, spanning across a 65,000 square metre space in the Mall of Asia.
The company also debuted the first of 25 stores in India in August and also announced plans to open a store in Tokyo in 2020.
Ikea has through its rapid growth and market dominance garnered a cult following internationally.