Swedish meatballs and furniture, anyone? Ikea to build new store in Halifax

HALIFAX -- Ikea has announced plans to build a full-size store in the Halifax area, the first of 12 new stores the Scandinavian furniture chain will roll out across Canada over the next decade.

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Stefan Sjostrand, the president of IKEA Canada, said the 30,472 square-metre store will be located in the Dartmouth Crossing retail area and will include a showroom, playroom and restaurant featuring the company's signature Swedish meatballs.

"I got mail from the people living in Halifax, in Nova Scotia, asking us to open up a store in the area, and I'm very thrilled to be able to make this announcement for the people living here," said Sjostrand in an interview prior to the official announcement in Halifax on Friday.

Construction is expected to start this summer and will take roughly 14 to 16 months to complete, said Sjostrand.

He said the decision to set up shop in Halifax came after more than a year of site visits and consultations and was based on factors such as population and location accessibility.

"It's important that we're close to where the main traffic is, so we can reach as many people as possible," said Sjostrand, who is originally from Sweden.

"There was also a site ready for us, so that speeded up the process to become the first stop on this fantastic expansion journey we have in front of us."

Sjostrand wouldn't say if there are more Ikea stores in Atlantic Canada's future. But he said he believes people will travel from across the region to visit the Halifax store.

"The combination of our knowledge of how people live their lives at home, and our inspiration, low prices and quality, it gives customers reasons to visit our stores," said Sjostrand.

The official announcement prompted plenty of positive reaction on social media, following a two-day flurry of speculation that began minutes after Ikea first said it was about to unveil plans for Halifax.

"I hope this is a lifelong relationship, Ikea, and not just a one night stand like that jerk Target," tweeted Halifax user @LauraORourke, referring to Target's short-lived foray into the Canadian market.

"New IKEA store would open by the end of this year, but they're having problems following the instructions to assemble it," noted the bloggers behind @NSTreasures.

At least one Halifax resident seized the opportunity to spite the city's regional rival of Moncton, N.B.

"IKEA coming to Halifax. Full store. Up yours Moncton!" posted @warrenhaight.

The new store marks the return of Ikea to the province. The chain opened its first Canadian store in Halifax about 40 years ago but it closed several years later.

He said the new store will be its most sustainable in Canada, with rooftop solar panels providing electricity to the building, a geothermal energy generation system for heating and cooling and LED lighting throughout the store.

"It's so important to work towards sustainability. Sustainability should not be a luxury for a few, it should be available to many," said Sjostrand, adding that Ikea sold more than one million LED bulbs in Canada over the past year.

"If we can support our customers to live a more sustainable life at home, that could have a huge impact on their environment."

Sjostrand said the company is aiming to be energy independent by 2020.

An Ikea representative said via email that store employees would be paid a base salary that is five per cent above the Canadian retail industry standard.

Stephanie Kerr said Ikea also provides employees with a retirement savings program known as TACK! - "thank you" in Swedish - as well as a bonus program and health spending account.



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