By Pádraig Hoare
Swedish furniture giant Ikea has poured cold water on plans for a third Irish store in Cork, saying it has "no plans at present" for another and is concentrating on further developing its Ballymun facility.
Despite intense recent speculation that it would open a store in Carrigtwohill in east Cork, Ikea's Irish arm said enhancing Ballymun and its online offering was its priority.
The firm's first Irish store opened in east Belfast in 2007, followed by its store in Ballymun in 2009.
In 2016, it opened an order-and-collection point in Carrickmines, and last year began online shopping for Irish customers.
The firm is known to have been in negotiations with Cork County Council regarding an identified site near Carrigtwohill but had remained tightlipped over its plans.
However, Ikea Ireland now has signalled the Cork store is currently off the agenda.
"Ikea Ireland will focus future investment on developing its flagship store in Ballymun, the order and collection Point in Carrickmines, and its shop online service... Ikea has no plans to open any additional stores in Ireland at present," a spokeswoman for the firm said.
Ikea Ireland reported annual sales of €167.1m for 2017, and its online site has had 17 million visitors since November last year.
Inter Ikea, which owns the Ikea concept and is the worldwide franchisor, plans to expand to about a dozen new markets in the coming years, including branching into South America, as the Swedish furniture giant aims to reach a total of three billion potential customers by 2025.
The company will in the coming years open stores in Chile, Colombia and Peru through a new Ikea franchisee called Falabella as part of its first foray into South America, Inter Ikea said.
The company plans to start selling its products in Mexico, Estonia, Ukraine, Puerto Rico, Oman, Luxembourg, Macau and the Philippines.
Its franchisees currently operate its more than 400 stores across the world. In its fiscal year 2019, which runs through August, a total of 15 retail locations are planned.
"By 2025, we have the potential to reach and interact with three billion people," Inter Ikea chief executive Torbjorn Loof said.
Total retail sales in the 12 months through August, which include sales of both products and services, rose to €38.8bn from €38.3bn a year earlier, it said.
- Additional reporting Bloomberg