/Furniture chain IKEA announces it is closing its first ever large UK store leaving 350 jobs at risk

Furniture chain IKEA announces it is closing its first ever large UK store leaving 350 jobs at risk

Ikea has confirmed plans to shut its Coventry store, marking the first major UK site closure since the Swedish retailer arrived in the UK. 

The company said it will close the doors of its £35 million Coventry branch, which opened at Christmas in 2007, with 352 workers expected to lose their jobs. 

The furniture chain said the store being built over seven levels has had a ‘significant impact on the operating costs’ and that customers who prefer shopping in retail parks and online meant losses for the site.  

Ikea, which came to Britain 33 years ago, is now consulting with employees affected by the closure to discuss the proposals and next steps. 

The Coventry store being built over seven levels had a 'significant impact on the operating costs', Ikea said

The Coventry store being built over seven levels had a 'significant impact on the operating costs', Ikea said

The Coventry store being built over seven levels had a ‘significant impact on the operating costs’, Ikea said

The furniture chain said the store being built over seven levels has had a 'significant impact on the operating costs' and that customers who prefer shopping in retail parks and online meant losses for the site (pictured: The interior of the Coventry store)

The furniture chain said the store being built over seven levels has had a 'significant impact on the operating costs' and that customers who prefer shopping in retail parks and online meant losses for the site (pictured: The interior of the Coventry store)

The furniture chain said the store being built over seven levels has had a ‘significant impact on the operating costs’ and that customers who prefer shopping in retail parks and online meant losses for the site (pictured: The interior of the Coventry store)

The company claimed they are committed to exploring how best to meet its customers in a 'changing retail environment where shoppers demand faster services, higher quality products, lower prices, more convenience and greater accessibility' (pictured: Coventry store interior)

The company claimed they are committed to exploring how best to meet its customers in a 'changing retail environment where shoppers demand faster services, higher quality products, lower prices, more convenience and greater accessibility' (pictured: Coventry store interior)

The company claimed they are committed to exploring how best to meet its customers in a ‘changing retail environment where shoppers demand faster services, higher quality products, lower prices, more convenience and greater accessibility’ (pictured: Coventry store interior)

The retailer said they had tried moving business operations to the site, but this did not stem the ‘fundamental challenges connected to the location and the format of the store’. 

Ikea also looked at options for downsizing or reconfiguring the store, but the ‘nature of the site means this is not a realistic option’, they said. 

IKEA: A HISTORY 

Ikea was founded by Ingvar Kamprad, who had a dream of selling well-designed furniture at an affordable price.

At the age of five, Mr Kamprad started selling matches to nearby neighbours. Over time – and with the help of his bicycle – he began trading further afield, and sold products such as flower seeds and pencils.

Beginning as a makeshift mail order service, the first Ikea store opened in 1958.

The furniture chain arrived in Britain in 1987, having been founded with the idea of ‘providing a better everyday life for the many’ and bringing the benefits of ‘good design’ to all.

Ikea opened the doors of its first store in Warrington, Cheshire, on October 1 of that year and beckoned in customers with a free pencil and a guide to a huge store with a most unusual layout.

The Swedish retailer initially wanted to open near London, but chose the North West because it was invited by the Warrington and Runcorn Development Corporation to be part of its regeneration plans for the area.

Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer, Ikea UK and Ireland said: ‘The proposed closure of the store has not been an easy decision, particularly given the impact it will have on our co-workers. I would like to thank our Coventry co-workers who have contributed enormously throughout this time.

‘Although this isn’t an easy decision, this is the right decision for the long-term success of Ikea in the UK. 

‘At Ikea, we are constantly challenging ourselves to find ways to meet the needs of our customers and we will continue to try and test, investing in stores, fulfilment centres, city centre formats and our digital capabilities to make IKEA even more affordable, convenient and sustainable.’

The company claimed they are committed to exploring how best to meet its customers in a ‘changing retail environment where shoppers demand faster services, higher quality products, lower prices, more convenience and greater accessibility’.  

The Coventry store will remain open during the consultation period, before the proposed store closure in the summer. 

Marsha Smith, Area Manager IKEA UK and Ireland, told Coventry Live: ‘As we go through this process, our priority is to support our co-workers in the Coventry store.

‘Our ambition is to retain as many people as possible within IKEA, and where this isn’t possible, support them to find new employment. 

‘We will work closely with our co-workers, impacted suppliers, unions and other trusted partners to ensure all our co-workers receive all the support they need.

Pictured above is construction of the Ikea store on Croft Road in Coventry, January 2007

Pictured above is construction of the Ikea store on Croft Road in Coventry, January 2007

Pictured above is construction of the Ikea store on Croft Road in Coventry, January 2007

The company said it will close the doors of its £35 million Coventry branch, which opened at Christmas in 2007, with 352 workers expected to lose their jobs (pictured: The interior of the Coventry store)

The company said it will close the doors of its £35 million Coventry branch, which opened at Christmas in 2007, with 352 workers expected to lose their jobs (pictured: The interior of the Coventry store)

The company said it will close the doors of its £35 million Coventry branch, which opened at Christmas in 2007, with 352 workers expected to lose their jobs (pictured: The interior of the Coventry store)

Ikea staff stand outside the huge logo on the side of the company's first UK store in Warrington as it opens in the 1980s

Ikea staff stand outside the huge logo on the side of the company's first UK store in Warrington as it opens in the 1980s

Ikea staff stand outside the huge logo on the side of the company’s first UK store in Warrington as it opens in the 1980s

Ikea has managed to hold up well in the UK in recent years as the high street has suffered (pictured: The interior of the Coventry store)

Ikea has managed to hold up well in the UK in recent years as the high street has suffered (pictured: The interior of the Coventry store)

Ikea has managed to hold up well in the UK in recent years as the high street has suffered (pictured: The interior of the Coventry store)

‘We feel privileged to have been part of the community for the last 12 years and I would like to thank our co-workers, customers and partners, who have contributed throughout this time.’

The retailer first entered the UK in 1987, opening a site in Warrington, Cheshire.

It now has 22 stores and is looking at rolling out more city centre locations – but far smaller than the Coventry site.

Dave Gill, national officer for the Usdaw union, said: ‘This is devastating news for Ikea staff working at the Coventry store.

‘We will now enter into meaningful consultation talks with the company to interrogate the business case for this proposed closure.

Dave Gill, national officer for the Usdaw union, said: 'This is devastating news for Ikea staff working at the Coventry store' - pictured under construction in 2007

Dave Gill, national officer for the Usdaw union, said: 'This is devastating news for Ikea staff working at the Coventry store' - pictured under construction in 2007

Dave Gill, national officer for the Usdaw union, said: ‘This is devastating news for Ikea staff working at the Coventry store’ – pictured under construction in 2007

Customers browse the first ever Ikea store in Britain which was opened in Warrington, Cheshire, on October 1, 1987

Customers browse the first ever Ikea store in Britain which was opened in Warrington, Cheshire, on October 1, 1987

Customers browse the first ever Ikea store in Britain which was opened in Warrington, Cheshire, on October 1, 1987

Retailers are calling on the Government to overhaul the business rates system, which many have blamed for job losses and store closures (pictured: The interior of the Coventry store)

Retailers are calling on the Government to overhaul the business rates system, which many have blamed for job losses and store closures (pictured: The interior of the Coventry store)

Retailers are calling on the Government to overhaul the business rates system, which many have blamed for job losses and store closures (pictured: The interior of the Coventry store)

‘Our priorities are to seek redeployment opportunities, minimise compulsory redundancies and secure the best deal we can for our members.

‘In the meantime, Usdaw is providing our members with the support, advice and representation they need art this difficult time.’

Ikea has managed to hold up well in the UK in recent years as the high street has suffered.

With the majority of its sites in retail parks, it has had smaller falls in shopper numbers compared with high streets and shopping centres.

Retailers are calling on the Government to overhaul the business rates system, which many have blamed for job losses and store closures.

Chancellor Sajid Javid has promised to hold a review, although, the details and scale have not been revealed.

Last month Ikea bought a London shopping centre where it will also launch its first UK small format store.

With the majority of its sites in retail parks, Ikea has had smaller falls in shopper numbers compared with high streets and shopping centres (pictured: Coventry store exterior)

With the majority of its sites in retail parks, Ikea has had smaller falls in shopper numbers compared with high streets and shopping centres (pictured: Coventry store exterior)

With the majority of its sites in retail parks, Ikea has had smaller falls in shopper numbers compared with high streets and shopping centres (pictured: Coventry store exterior)

An artist's impression of Ikea's new Hammersmith store, which is set to open in Spring 2021

An artist's impression of Ikea's new Hammersmith store, which is set to open in Spring 2021

An artist’s impression of Ikea’s new Hammersmith store, which is set to open in Spring 2021

The Swedish retail giant’s property arm snapped up Kings Mall Shopping Centre in Hammersmith for £170 million as the company enacts a strategy to develop mixed-use sites around urban stores.

It said it will install a new style of smaller store in the West London shopping centre, which it plans to open in spring 2021.

The acquisition by Ikea’s Ingka Centres property arm marks the ‘next step’ in its strategy to move further into city centres despite current pressures on the UK high street.

Peter Jelkeby, country retail manager and chief sustainability officer at Ikea UK & Ireland, had said: ‘Our plan to open a new city centre store in Hammersmith is an exciting next step as we continue to respond to people’s evolving shopping habits, making Ikea more convenient than ever before.

‘People have been eager to see our affordable range and access our life-at-home expertise on the high street for some time, so we’re excited to introduce a unique Ikea store to the vibrant local community in Hammersmith and London.’

The Ikea Store in Wembley. The acquisition by Ikea's Ingka Centres property arm marks the 'next step' in its strategy to move further into city centres despite current pressures on the UK high street

The Ikea Store in Wembley. The acquisition by Ikea's Ingka Centres property arm marks the 'next step' in its strategy to move further into city centres despite current pressures on the UK high street

The Ikea Store in Wembley. The acquisition by Ikea’s Ingka Centres property arm marks the ‘next step’ in its strategy to move further into city centres despite current pressures on the UK high street

Marsha Smith, Area Manager Ikea UK and Ireland, said: 'Our ambition is to retain as many people as possible within Ikea'

Marsha Smith, Area Manager Ikea UK and Ireland, said: 'Our ambition is to retain as many people as possible within Ikea'

Marsha Smith, Area Manager Ikea UK and Ireland, said: ‘Our ambition is to retain as many people as possible within Ikea’

The opening will take Ikea’s London store portfolio to six sites, having launched its latest store in the city in Greenwich last year.

Ikea also launched two London planning studios last year under its plan to develop new formats for inner city locations.

The retailer said the new mall store will include more than 2,000 home furnishing accessories.

Ikea already has a handful of smaller inner city store elsewhere in Europe, including sites in Paris and Moscow, but Hammersmith will be its first smaller UK shop.

Gerard Groener, managing director at Ingka Centres, added: ‘Our urban projects are all about getting closer to more people.

‘More of our customers are living in cities than ever before, and a regenerated Kings Mall will be an ideal location for reaching millions of Londoners.’

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