Ottawa Ikea sales up 40% since move

Courtney Symons
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As employees celebrated their one-year anniversary of upgrading to a new store that was briefly the largest Ikea in Canada, they were also adding up some impressive growth metrics.

Since moving to its new location in the Pinecrest Shopping Centre last December and tripling its square footage, Ikea’s sales are up by 40 per cent, according to store manager Isabelle Auclair. Those increases are mainly from kitchens – of which they’ve sold 4,300 since the move – and bedroom sets.

That’s likely because the number of showrooms has tripled to 55, says Ms. Auclair.

“There’s a lot of stuff that we couldn’t show before so you’d be buying your kitchen based off a tiny photo,” she says. “But now, you can walk right in. Now, there’s 20 kitchens built.”

Buyers can now take home items on the day of purchase because of additional storage space. Previously, many large items had to be shipped in from larger stores such as Montreal.

An even greater jump in revenues comes from Ikea’s restaurant, which is generating 210 per cent more business than at the previous location. The diner is significantly larger and has become a destination – people from nearby office buildings stop by for lunch or to host a business meeting, Mr. Auclair says.

A total of 1.9 million visitors have entered the new Ikea since its grand opening, and more than half of those purchased an item, according to officials.

With 130 new employees hired since the move, its total staff force is up to 375; around 400 in the summer months after staffing up with students to accommodate the back-to-school rush.

Although Ikea isn’t a Christmas or Boxing Day shopping destination, things get busy beginning on Dec. 27, Ms. Auclair says, when Christmas is over but parents are killing time before their children return to school. One of the store’s busiest days is Jan. 2, she says.

While initially the store faced many complaints from customers saying it was too large and took too long to walk through, those complaints have died down now that people are used to the new 400,000-square-foot store, Ms. Auclair says.

A study by PrimeCorp Commercial Realty predicted traffic in the area would increase by 40 per cent due to the expanded Ikea, but Ms. Auclair says they have yet to conduct an updated traffic study because there have been no complaints. With an increase of parking spaces from 500 to 1,600, there’s room to absorb the additional traffic, she says. The larger parking area keeps congestion within the parking lot, without trickling onto neighbouring roads as was the case previously.

On days where Ikea predicts it will generate more than $500,000 in revenues, which occurs on a few Saturdays per year, the company hires employees from a traffic firm to help moderate the flow of vehicles.

Looking toward 2013, Ms. Auclair says there will be new local competition with the arrival of Target stores.

“We’re always aware of what (Target) is up to, but we’re not worried,” Ms Auclair says. “I think we have a really good assortment we can be proud of, so people keep coming back to us.”

Organizations: Ikea, Pinecrest Shopping Centre, Target

Geographic location: Ottawa, Montreal

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