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VOL. 131 | NO. 83 | Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ikea: 'Everything's on Track' for New Memphis Store

By Madeline Faber

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A construction crew of nearly 500 is at work turning what is now a steel frame into Tennessee’s first Ikea store. This week, the crew began installing Ikea’s trademark cobalt-blue walls on the western edge of what will be a self-serve warehouse.

The construction milestone, reached five months after groundbreaking, means that the store is on pace to open late fall.

The Ikea site is located on 35 acres along the southwestern side of Interstate 40 near the Germantown Parkway exit. Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth said the parcel is one of Ikea’s largest sites, with most Ikea stores sitting on 20- to 30-acre parcels. With the extra land, expansions of 30,000 to 40,000 square feet could be possible after the store is up and running.

“We could expand on both ends,” Roth said of the warehouse and showroom area.

The 271,000-square-foot store is split into three parts across a single story.

Customers will enter from the 800-space parking lot into the showroom, where selections from Ikea’s 10,000 items will be brought to life in model room displays.

The eastern half of the store will also house a marketplace for accessories and textiles and a 300-seat restaurant with Swedish and American dishes.

On the western side of the site is the self-serve warehouse where customers can select to-be-assembled furniture kits for purchase.

Other elements of the store include a supervised children’s area, an “exit bistro” for a quick snack, and a to-go Swedish food market where customers can purchase Ikea menu items to take home.

Roth said the average Ikea visit is two to three hours.

After physical construction wraps in late summer, Ikea employees will start assembling items for the showroom and readying the store for its fall opening.

Ikea is looking to hire 225 employees. Starting this spring, opportunities will be available for positions in management in addition to sales, cashiers, customer service, interior decoration, safety and security, goods flow, receiving, warehousing, stock replacement and maintenance.

The average annual salary for an Ikea Memphis position is $41,000.

To fill the jobs, Ikea is partnering with the Memphis-based Workforce Investment Network, Roth said. WIN will host employment information sessions in mid-July. Management positions will be posted on the Ikea website, IKEA-USA.com.

Ikea has 380 stores in 48 countries, including 41 in the U.S. The nearest stores to Memphis are in Atlanta and St. Louis.

Roth said Memphis is one of the smallest markets for Ikea, and tax incentives were important in getting the store off the ground.

The Memphis-Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine board has granted an 11-year reduction in property taxes, saving Ikea $9.5 million.

“We made it clear that because it’s such a smaller market that the economic development partnership would be crucial,” Roth said. “We needed to be able to show this was a good investment right off the bat.”

A disagreement over the assessed value of the Ikea land delayed construction. Ikea initially hoped to open the store late summer.

“The three-month setback definitely affected us,” Roth said. “But everything’s on track.”

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751