Ikea’s flagship branch in Netanya opened its doors to journalists yesterday, one year after the store burned down.
The official reopening is scheduled for March 6.
The new store is slightly larger than its predecessor, which had 25,000 square meters of space.
The store cost NIS 230 million to rebuild, said sources from the company. The store burned down in February 2011, apparently due to an electrical shortage on the roof.
The new building has more showrooms than its predecessor. The restaurant is 30% larger, and the children’s playroom is 25% larger.
The path through the showrooms is also slightly longer, at 2 kilometers, while new shortcuts let customers cut through to spots such as the restaurant, the checkout counters and the exits.
Ikea Israel CEO Shlomi Gabay noted that, in the time since the store burned down, last summer’s cost-of-living protest has changed consumer outlooks. “I support the social protest and I’m disappointed by the results so far. The high cost of living here is untenable,” he told TheMarker. “Therefore, customers will see lower prices at the new store, and Ikea is promising not to raise prices this year.”
Past checks found that prices at Ikea in Israel were often significantly higher than those in other countries. While Gabay did not commit to offering the same prices Ikea offers abroad, he did say the chain intends to push down prices.
“We’re committing to lower prices by several percent in the upcoming catalog, which is coming out in September,” he said.
He also said the chain had nothing to fear from the Austrian chain Kika, which opened its first store in Israel near Ikea’s Netanya branch while the latter was being rebuilt.
“We’re not afraid of competition. Rather, competition is good for everyone,” he said.
Kika is currently running an advertising campaign which states that 250,000 people have patronized the store since its opening.
Ikea is expecting turnover of NIS 330 million this year from the Netanya store alone.
Some of the sales will likely come at the expense of the chain’s other store, in Rishon Letzion, which Ikea expects to have sales of NIS 330 million this year, compared to NIS 555 million last year. Total sales between the two stores are expected to be approximately what they were before the fire, say company sources.
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