Ikea plans to replace Renton store

The Seattle TimesJuly 10, 2014 

Ikea said Thursday it filed plans with the City of Renton for the construction of a new warehouse store in the parking lot of its existing location, replacing the current one by 2016.

The updated space for procuring inexpensive, minimalistic furniture and Swedish meatballs will be 399,000 square feet, about the same size as the original store that Ikea opened in a converted aerospace electronics warehouse in 1994. It will have about the same number of parking spots, some 1,700.

But Ikea promises “a more current layout” in a two-story structure built from scratch. The company said the new building will include a supervised play area for children and a bigger restaurant. There will also be baby-care rooms.

Fans of Ikea’s maze-like home decor wonderland aren’t likely to encounter a radically different experience from what they know.

It’ll just be shinier and newer, and provide “a smoother path” to shoppers, according to Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth.

Roth said in an interview that the store’s vaguely added-on feel — the result of using a space designed for something else, plus a couple of past additions — will be replaced by a store that’s consistent with other new Ikea facilities around the country. Ikea builds most of its warehouses from the ground up; the newer stores tend to occupy between 350,000 and 450,000 square feet, Roth said.

A review of the company’s application by local authorities should be finished within the next six months, he added.

“We recognize that while it’s a very successful store, it’s not the most up-to-date shopping experience. We want to be there for the long term, we want the shopping experience to be as updated as possible,” Roth said.

The Renton store currently employs some 350 people. The future store will employ about the same number, although Ikea expects the new layout to generate more sales over the long term, potentially generating more jobs.

There are 38 Ikea stores in the U.S. According to data from Kantar Retail, in 2013 Ikea stores in the U.S. had nearly $4.4 billion in retail sales, or about $115 million per store. Seattle was one of the company’s first U.S. markets, Roth said.

Sales for Ikea’s existing stores grew 7 percent from 2012, according to the Kantar data, published by the National Retail Federation on its website. That’s a big bump at a time when many retailers struggle with diminishing foot traffic.

Ángel González: 206-464-2250 or agonzalez@seattletimes.com. On Twitter: @gonzalezseattle

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