The Swedish retail giant has been actively scouting for a Cork location over the past year to add to its 410 stores in 49 countries.
Ikea has been trading very successfully in Dublin since 2009, where it employs more than 650 people in Ballymun and Carrickmines, and it has another store in east Belfast.
Well-placed sources confirm that Ikea has now opted for a large site in Cork’s Carrigtwohill, close to the rail line.
The company had €150m in sales in Ireland in the last year, with a range of 10,000 products and has a worldwide turnover of €35bn.
Ever-expanding, it is opening British stores as well, and has moved into the Far East, to India and South Korea, and has stores of more than 600,000 sq ft in China. It employs more than 180,000 people around the world.
Very pleased with its Irish stores’ sales, and continuing growth, Ikea has held several meetings with Cork County manager Tim Lucey and senior planners to outline its proposals for a Munster presence.
Since then, a number of Cork towns such as Fermoy, Carrigtwohill, Mallow, and Mitchelstown, have argued their case as a suitable Ikea location. Little Island and Carrigtwohill — both east of the Jack Lynch Tunnel and Dunkettle interchange — quickly emerged as frontrunners.
While the critical deal is not yet fully nailed down, and any store opening will be subject to planning and likely third-party appeals, Carrigtwohill — which is just 12km east of Cork City, and the closest contending site to the city and metropolitan Cork region — is the location now approved by Ikea.
Negotiations on a suitable site are well advanced, the Irish Examiner has learnt, and rail access on the Cork-Midleton commuter line was a factor in their decision, it’s understood. And, despite expectations that the serviced site on the edge of Carrigtwohill which was assembled for pharmaceutical company Amgen, and later abandoned by them, might have lured Ikea, the sizeable site necessary for the enormous store is elsewhere at Carrigtwohill.
The company plans to build a full-range Ikea store at Carrigtwohill: store sizes typically span 200,000 sq ft-450,000 sq ft over two levels.
That is the size and model employed so far in Ireland, where it opened a 312,000 sq ft Ikea in Belfast’s Holywood Exchange in 2007, which was followed by a 310,000 sq ft store in Dublin’s Ballymun in 2009, after planning restrictions on store sizes were lifted.
Dublin’s main Ikea site has more than 1,800 parking spaces on a 100-acre site. Last year, Ikea opened a second ‘click and collect’ 16,000 sq ft outlet on Dublin’s southside, at Carrickmines.
The area around Carrigtwohill and along the N25 has a strong employment base, with IT and pharmaceutical plants, as well as retail offerings at East Gate, and Fota Retail and Business Park.
Considered critical to the area’s growth and capacity for large arrivals is the €100m upgrade to the Dunkettle interchange at the N25/N8 junction by the Jack Lynch tunnel, where work is due to start by 2019 to cope with traffic movement of over 100,000 vehicles a day.