Home furnisher Ikea shows off its supersized Sha Tin makeover

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 December, 2009, 12:00am

After seeing off British home improvement giant B&Q last year, Jardine Matheson's Ikea is now rolling out a supersized version of flat-pack and Allen key retail heaven.

Following a year-long renovation, the retailer reopened its Sha Tin store yesterday featuring 120,000 square feet of floor space, 35 display rooms, 7,500 items and a 130-seat Swedish restaurant. An even bigger outlet is now planned at Kowloon Bay.

With its lightweight, knock-together furniture better suited to the city's cramped living space, Ikea proved a formidable competitor to B&Q whose outdoor barbecue sets and garden supplies were more applicable to European homes.

The Sha Tin outlet is the biggest of Ikea's three stores in the city and takes up the fifth and sixth floors of Sun Hung Kai's HomeSquare in Grand Central Plaza.

Ikea's Hong Kong operations, controlled by Jardine Matheson Holdings through Dairy Farm International Holdings, also has shops in Causeway Bay and Telford Plaza, Kowloon Bay.

Benjamin Birks, general manager of Ikea Hong Kong, said the Swedish home furnisher had benefited from the fact that Hongkongers had become more attached to their homes during the recent tough economic times.

'Home becomes even more important to people as they spend much more time there and are more aware of the value of a beautiful home,' said Birks.

Ikea is now planning to open an even bigger outlet in MegaBox at Kowloon Bay in the middle of next year, to replace its Telford Plaza shop.

The 150,000 sq ft space at MegaBox was vacated earlier this year by B&Q, which became a victim of punishing rents and the economic slowdown. Europe's biggest home improvements retailer said it was closing owing to poor business performance and the fact it had not found the right location with the right space and at the right price.

The opening of HomeSquare Ikea is expected to bring a double-digit increase in customers and turnover at the shopping centre, which aims to become the city's biggest one-stop retailer for home updaters.

Henry Lam Ka-keung, general manager of leasing at Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency, forecast that customer traffic this Christmas might climb 12 per cent and sales by 15 per cent compared to the same period last year thanks to the 'Ikea effect'.

Lam said the average rent at HomeSquare stood at HK$70 per square foot, and they had made 'some minor adjustments' over the rent level with Ikea before the shop opened. Aside from Ikea, the home-themed shopping centre also sells electrical appliances, lighting, accessories and furniture.

'The customers we target are middle-class families living in the New Territories, the most populated region in Hong Kong,' he said. 'We are looking forward to seeing more than 20 per cent growth in sales next year.'

Neat fit

At 120,000 square feet, the store is the biggest of Ikea's three outlets

Included in the revamped Sha Tin store is a Swedish-style restaurant seating: 130