IKEA staff outside the new IKEA Canberra building. Photo: Rohan ThomsonTraining in stacking packs, arranging lounge room ensembles and cooking meatballs has begun as IKEA inducted 250 employees into the soon-to-be-opened Canberra store.
The yellow and blue army will spend the fortnight preparing for the store’s opening on November 16, as well as for the bumper crowds expected to flood inside.
“On our opening event on Facebook, we’ve had 12,000 people say they’re coming,” store manager MarkMitchinsonsaid.
“Every single day I walk through the store, there’s something new, there’s something else ready. We’re getting closer every day.”
Of the retail giant’s total workforce, 85 were newly introduced to the store on Monday and Tuesday. The remainder were recruited earlier to help the store’s opening preparations
“Today’s probably the first time we’ve had everyone together, it’s an extremely proud moment,” MrMitchinsonsaid.
Despite the numberof people expected to line up for a new bed ordining room set or at the bistro, not everybody has greeted the store’s arrival with enthusiasm.
Local furniture retailers have expressed fears IKEA’s presence in the capital would dramatically cut their patronage, with one store owner warning she would be forced to close once the retailer opens.
But Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who attended the induction ceremony, said the store would cater to the demands of Canberrans currently visiting Sydney’s IKEA.
“Undoubtedly there’s going to be some displacement activities as people will come and check out products here,” he said.
“Competition in the marketplace is a good thing.I don’t think anyone denies that consumers deserve the widest possible choice of home furnishings and that’s exactly what they’re going to get.
“We’re going to see this store act as a magnet for the retail sector for the broader region and that’s a critical point. It’s going to bring people into the city.”
MrMitchinsonsaid about 70 per cent of theMajuraPark store’s stock had been delivered over the past eight weeks.
Some 180 trucks are expected to deliver more goods to the local IKEA before opening day.
“Last week was probably one of the busiest weeks [the staff will]face in Canberra; the team has worked really hard,” he said.
“Pretty much all of them have travelled to different stores around Australia … it’s going to be a challenge, but I think we’re going to be up to the task.”
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