Canberra’s cashed-up public service and its international demographic have successfully lured flatpack furniture giant Ikea to the capital.
And the opening of a store in the territory is expected to drag about 5 to 10 per cent of sales across the border from Sydney.
As The Canberra Times revealed on Tuesday, the Swedish flatpack furniture giant has now officially announced a new store for the capital as part of the company’s east coast expansion plans.
Construction should begin on the Majura Park store at the end of the year and an expected opening date of late 2015 has been given.
Ikea country manager David Hood said there was already about 22,000 Ikea family members living in the ACT region.
Information collected by the company shows that Canberra residents account for 5 to 10 per cent of sales volumes across the two Sydney stores.
Mr Hood said the territory had not even been on the radar for the company until about 2-and-a-half years ago when they started to examine the capital’s demographics and “spending power of the people”.
The large public service employment base and high income rates proved an attraction to the company, as did the international community within the embassy population.
“We know there’s a good core population who we believe will be very keen to have an Ikea store here,” he said.
“When we looked at it all and we added up what we saw we thought this could work but we have to be a little bit smarter in what we build,” he said.
Instead of the typical double-storey store with an underground car park, Canberra’s Ikea will be a single store with surface car parking for more than 800 vehicles.
Mr Hood said it would have the same product range and features as the other stores but be a single level “big blue box” instead.
Canberra’s store will have more than 7200 products, 11,200 square metres of combined furniture showroom and market hall space and a 340-seat Ikea restaurant.
There will also be 4000 solar panels on the roof, which will generate up to 25 per cent of the energy used.
The not-so-secret site for the store was also almost a deal breaker for the Swedish company, who had already determined the location they would open.
The ACT government’s Land Development Agency had suggested a few other sites in other retail areas for consideration that were knocked back.
“We said to make this work we have to be in a specific location and the specific location we want to be is in Majura Park close to that new motorway access and exit – that’s a prerequisite for us,” Mr Hood said.
“We also wanted to be beside Costco to be honest, we think they’re a good partner for us, we trade alongside them in other countries and we felt that was important.”
The variation to the Territory Plan to allow the 7.6 hectare site to be used for ‘‘bulky goods retailing, warehousing, freight and distribution" was approved by the ACT government earlier this year.
It will be the first time the global company has opened a store in an Australian city of less than 500,000, but Ikeas have been built in other countries with much smaller populations.
Both Ikea and the ACT government will make the official announcement of Canberra’s new store at 12.30pm on Thursday.
The east coast expansion also includes a new store in both Victoria and Queensland and a third store in Sydney is under construction.
This will bring the total number of Ikea stores in Australia to nine with additional franchise stores in Perth and Adelaide.