Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

IKEA to open doors Nov. 28

No construction delays to date

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Now that IKEA has announced the opening date of its Winnipeg store, only one question remains -- what's the over-under on how many fanatics will camp out to get door-crasher specials?

The most anticipated retail arrival in Winnipeg since, well, the dawn of time, will take place on Nov. 28 -- that's a Wednesday, for those of you planning your carpools.

"We are counting the days until we can welcome our customers into our new store. With only 70 days to go, excitement is mounting," said Stephen Bobko, manager of IKEA Winnipeg.

The nearly 400,000-square-foot building is still a concrete shell but the interior will soon be finished -- including 55 display rooms -- and shelves will soon be stocked.

The store announced in late June it would hire 300 to 350 "co-workers," and was inundated with more than 3,000 online applications. About 200 people have been hired so far -- training has included trips to other Canadian IKEA stores to learn from company veterans.

"It's clear that IKEA is the employer of choice in Winnipeg," Bobko said.

Even though other high-profile construction projects, such as the new football stadium for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, are significantly behind schedule, IKEA has no such troubles.

"It's a well-orchestrated, well-oiled machine. We have it down to an art form. Our service office contacts in Canada and our global partners have kept a tight rein on our construction," he said.

Winnipeg has been one of IKEA's strongest catalogue markets, usually neck-and-neck with Halifax. Bobko said the time had finally come to enter the market, the first time it had opened in a new Canadian city in 30 years.

"Our growth is very conservative. It's about being able to sustain and secure the product for our customers," he said.

Despite the fears IKEA will quash the local furniture industry, Bobko said there is plenty of evidence its presence increases the amount consumers spend on furniture.

"We restimulate the home fashion business. It's not just about IKEA," he said.

The store will anchor the Seasons of Tuxedo retail development where Cabela's, the big-box outdoors store, has already committed to building a 72,000-square-foot outlet.

There are 325 IKEA stores in 40 countries worldwide.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 20, 2012 A6

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