Swedish retail giant Ikea has announced a new location in Kitchener as part of a Canada-wide expansion of its retail operations.
The new location, which will be at 130 Gateway Park Drive in Kitchener, isn't a traditional retail store but a "pick-up and order point" where customers can pick up goods ordered online or purchased at another Ikea store closer to their homes.
"It can take years to open a normal Ikea store, so to say," Stefan Sjöstrand, the president of Ikea Canada said Tuesday. "This new concept will allow us to expand quickly into new and exciting markets."
"Here in Kitchener today, we already have five per cent market share, which means that many people living in Kitchener already today travel to Burlington and our Burlington store," said Sjöstrand. "It means...they can shop closer to where they live and they can come and pick up the goods for $20."
$20 pick up fee
The $20 fee, Sjöstrand said, is charged to all customers using the pick up point. It is a flat rate, no matter the size of the purchase. Otherwise, customers would be paying a minimum delivery charge for online purchases of $99, though that can increase depending on the size of the purchase.
The store will display some furniture and home design products and there will be Ikea employees to help answer questions at the Kitchener location.
Ikea is retrofitting and renovating the former Sears Home outlet to build the pick-up point, which will provide jobs for 30-35 employees. It is slated to open sometime in the spring of 2016.
When asked if the pick-up point would eventually lead to a full Ikea retail store, Sjöstrand said first the company needed to see how well the pick-up points worked.
"Then we will also look into all-new market opportunities and I think Kitchener-Waterloo region is one, we have many others across Canada," he said. "It took us 40 years to build 12 stores, and now we will, in the next coming 10 years, build 12 more stores, so let's see where we will find the best location for those."
The announcement is hot on the heels of similar pick-up locations recently announced for Whitby, Windsor, London and Quebec City, according to the company.
Kitchener mayor chased Ikea Canada president
Sjöstrand said that he was leaving a climate change summit in Toronto on July 9, heading for the airport, when Kitchener mayor Berry Vrbanovic chased after him to introduce himself.
"I waited for when he was finished at the end of the session and said, 'Stefan, I said, I want to meet you,'" Vrbanovic said at the announcement on Tuesday. "'I'm the mayor of Kitchener and we want to have a store in Kitchener and, 'Funny,' he goes, 'We've just been talking that we'd like to be in Kitchener, too.'"
According to Sjöstrand, Vrbanovic was instrumental in helping the retailer find a suitable location and suggested the Sears Home location.