Swedish home furnishings retailer IKEA is scheduled to open its fourth Taiwanese store next Wednesday when it unveils an outlet in Kaohsiung, targeting the area's 400,000 households.
This marks the first time the retailer has ventured outside of northern Taiwan, with its other three stores located in Taipei, Taipei County's Sinjhuang (
"We're very excited about the opening of the Kaohsiung outlet. We already have more than 6,000 IKEA members from this area, who applied for membership while visiting stores in the north," said Justine Yao (
Since the IKEA card program was launched in late 2004, the firm has attracted more than 420,000 members, she added.
With an investment of NT$1.3 billion (US$39 million), the 7,000-ping (23,100m2) store features over 6,000 furnishing items, 51 showrooms, three complete home models and a 45-ping children's playroom, making it the nation's second largest IKEA store, next to Sinjhuang, as well as the biggest furniture outlet in the south.
The store, located in the Kaohsiung Commerce and Trade Park near the Sun Yat-sen Freeway, comprises three floors above ground and two underground.
Its geographic position would help attract shoppers from as far north as Tainan and Chiayi to as far south as Kenting in Pingtung, said Mark Curtis, project leader for the new store.
Yao expects customer traffic to top 18,000 per day during the first 10 days of business.
IKEA has conducted a household survey to determine local shoppers needs, behavior and furnishing preferences.
It found out that Japanese-style rooms are very popular in Kaohsiung as they can serve as both living rooms and guest rooms.
Hence, IKEA designers created the stores first Japanese-Swedish room model, as well as larger room settings to reflect the local market, Yao said.
Brian Tuson, chief executive officer of IKEA Taiwan, said the firm plans to open six stores in Taiwan by 2009, an aggressive goal unveiled after the group's management changed from Jardine Matheson (
Plans to open its fifth store have yet taken shape but the location is more
likely to be in northern or central Taiwan, according to Yao.
The plans have been partly affected by the worse-than-expected business
climate and weaker private consumption caused by the consumer bad loan
problem this year, she added.
IKEA has 244 stores in 35 nations and posted sales of 17 billion euros
(US$21.3 billion) between September last year and August this year.