Ikea for Holywood Exchange…

Not good news for the ferry companies. Ikea the popular Swedish furniture store is set up shop just outside Belfast. Their Glasgow Store is currently the most popular Ikea for Northern Irish homemakers. It has a reputation for keeping the customer happy, though it’s so popular, and they keep so few stores, that the experience is too much like getting caught in amongst a herd of elephants for me. It should provide a private sector boost to jobs.

  • Pete Baker


    There’s an importnat point to note in this story.. and it’s in this line “earlier this month the privately-owned company revealed it was planning to open a string of city centre stores in the UK.”

    That was presented as a change in strategy, highlighted in the media at the time, as a high risk/potentially high return for the company.

    Developing another new out-of-town store would seem to run counter to that new strategy.. which may call into question whether a store at the site under discussion will materialise.

  • Donnie

    I really don’t see the attraction of their stuff – there is only so much you can do with chipboard and laminate. I wouldn’t buy it if the new store was in my back garden.

  • Joe

    My niece took a trip to the Glasgow store a few years ago with a bunch of friends.
    She came back with a kettle.
    Must be the most costly kettle in the world.

  • slug


    I think the city centre idea was a response to the fact there weren’t too many out of town sites left. I would expect that where an out of town site exists they would prefer it.


    I believe that Ikea is a bit more stylish than you suggest. Its much higher quality than MFI!


    Mail order beats it every time for me. So to go to Glasgow for a kettle sounds mad. But then I am a shopophobic.

  • Joe


    Couldn’t agree more. I presently live in a small town in Canada far from the madding crowds. So most of my serious shopping is done over the Internet.
    However, I think my niece really enjoyed the experience; I think it was more of a girls day out than a serious shopping exercise.

  • Remember the riot that happened in the Ikea in London last year? One man was stabbed over a thirty pound sofa and people were trampled etc

    I dread to think whats going to happen when they open in east Belfast. The RIR will have to be retained to keep the peace between feuding customers.

  • harry flashman

    I challenge any married couple to go to Ikea and not have an argument. I swear to God it is singlehandedly responsible for 15% of marriage breakdowns.

    Any visit by a married couple invariably causes a row with the man storming off after thirty minues to sulk in the coffee shop while the woman then spends the next two hours wandering around by herself which is what I suspect she wanted all along.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Mick said: “It should provide a private sector boost to jobs.”

    Ikea says it will “create” 400 jobs. It doesn’t however say how many jobs it will cost!

  • Aidan

    I’ve bought a few items from my closest Ikea here in the USA and it’s good value for money.

    Gonzo – it’s a free market economy. If people save some money at Ikea, they’ll spend it elsewhere, and create more jobs.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Just like Walmart did.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, I’m not sure it’s exactly the same Gonzo. They manage their costs tightly, thus they are careful not to over supply demand. The Scottish store will have build both profile and demand so that staff will be busy from day one.

    But new jobs is new jobs, and is mostly better (and less vulnerable) than old jobs. If NI PLC were to adopt that mantra we’d be doing a lot better on more than just the retail front.

  • Alan

    Never been to IKEA on this side of the pond, although herself has been over a few times for a girls together spree. In TO over the summer, I went and was bored stupuid ( so no change there !).

    The one thing worth buying at IKEA is not furniture, but their two foot long shoe horn ( $ 0.99 ca). It has improved my morning regime immeasurably.

  • Animus

    I love Ikea and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I would love for a shop to open in NI as I hate taking the ferry, ends up being a very long day.

    Yes, it does cause marital rowing, but only at the end when trying to find Aisle 16, section J and finding the last of X item, which you had your heart set upon, is being loaded into a trolley by some other customer. Oh, the agony. “If you’d moved faster rather than dawdling through, that table/set of chairs/wardrobe would be ours!!”

  • slug

    “Gonzo – it’s a free market economy. If people save some money at Ikea, they’ll spend it elsewhere, and create more jobs.”

    “Just like Walmart did. ”

    Aidan makes a good point and the Walmart bashers generally need to be challenged a bit.

    A shop sets up with low prices. Who does this hurt and who benefits? Well the local consumers benefit, and have more left over to spend on other things. The shopkeeper loses, but his loss is offset by the gains to local consumers. And the consumers probably know best what they want to buy so the fact they choose the low price store shows that its benefiting them. A Walmart world may not appeal to our nostalgic or romantic sensibilities, but it is a world where we have money left over for other things.

  • Animus

    Walmart-type places ultimately offer low prices because they exploit their own workforce by offering low wages and poor terms and conditions. Walmart stores work particularly well in areas where people are poor, WM drive away local competition and then the prices steadily start to rise. By then local business has already folded and local people may not be able to afford to buy elsewhere.

  • slug

    “Walmart-type places ultimately offer low prices because they exploit their own workforce by offering low wages and poor terms and conditions. Walmart stores work particularly well in areas where people are poor, WM drive away local competition and then the prices steadily start to rise. By then local business has already folded and local people may not be able to afford to buy elsewhere. ”

    The bit about low wages is true – Wal-Mart operate on a lean aproach to all their costs. But the level of competition is fierce and so the low costs are passed on to consumers. Who then have more money to spend on other things.

    There is little evidence of prices being increased when the competitors leave. If prices did go up then competitors would come back in again. Besides which, in the UK where ASDA is the local Wal-Mart brand, that would be against the Competition Act.

  • Skintown lad

    allowing big stores in is to accept a world where everyone is an employee, not some who are employers, and to allow the profits from NI people’s well earned and spent money to go straight into the pockets of some tax exile in Monaco, who knows nothing of even where it came from. At least local bosses will be more likely to give back to the communities from whom they made all their money. We should be encouraging home-grown start-ups to bring money in from outside, not welcoming outside big businesses here to remove our hard-earned.

  • Animus

    Now come on, look at how somewhere like Tesco operates. The competition doesn’t necessarily come back in once they are out of business Slug. For example, the Big 4 supermarkets take a huge share of the market. All the while, farmers are complaining about getting poor prices, and even customers bemoan the dearth of greengrocers etc, while still merrily shopping at places like Tesco.

    Having said that, I’m still pro-Ikea, because they generally make sustainable furniture. I am aware that some of their items are made in the developing world, but many aren’t. Still hate Wal-Mart though.

  • FK

    Ikea is a far cry from Wal-Mart! It is really no different from a large department store that happens to be affordable. I have heard no evidence that they abuse their employees the way wal-mart does.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    First things first… anyone FIRST visit to IKEA should be whilst under mild anti-anxiety medication… its a little too big and a little too busy to take in all at once.

    Second, the stock there is much more than particle board and laminate, leastwise out here.

    Now, as for Wal-Mart: the competitors in the deep-discount retail arena are pretty much same same — they compete on price. It has been noted that those entities, yea verily, even small businesses, who compete on other dimensions — service, convenience, specialization, etc. do not automatically fold once a big box store opens up. Now, for the last… In the US at least, unemployment is under 5% — if you want a different job than working at Wal-Mart, in most cases, its out there to be found. A couple of MIT economists studied the impact of Wal-Mart on low and middle income households in the US and found they provide a great net benefit to low income families, particularly with their entrance into foodstuff sales. Conrariwise, the “living wage” movement (which, oddly enough, does not pay all its employees said “living wage”) have left businesses in shambles in their wake, such as in Baltimore. Moral outrage aside, it would seem that, sometimes, less in more.

  • foreign correspondent

    Correct me if I´m wrong but didn´t Ikea get the Republic to change its legislation not so long ago so it could open a store in Ballymun? At the time they dropped hints that they might be forced to locate their new store in the Wee North if they didn´t get their way. So now it seems they plan to build one in NI as well as in Dublin. Or forgive my cynicism but maybe that was their plan all along. When a bloody furniture shop has the clout to change a country´s laws there´s something wrong IMHO

  • PeteC

    Hollywood Exchange was build 2-3 years ago. I drive past it twice a day and often wonder why It has never had any occupants or even, it seems, any effort to get occupants.
    I was told on good authority, shortly after it was built, that Ikea had involement in the empty building and paid the phone / electricity bills etc. There has also been to my knowledge no discussion of why this was built and left idle for this long in NDBC or the press.
    I wonder if Ikea planned all along to open in Belfast, I will let others consider the reasons why.

  • IJP

    Mick is entirely correct of course.

    The risk with Walmart or Tesco, as discussed before, is that it becomes so successful it removes the competition (not that this has happened yet, in their cases). Once that happens, service deteriorates and the organizations become public-sector-like in terms of efficiency – which isn’t good for anyone, not least the people who work in or supply it.

    But yes, new jobs is new jobs and they’re safer than old jobs (proved, sadly, the very day after in Coleraine).

    The problem NI plc faces is that its ‘private’ sector is becoming almost entirely retail. In the end, the State is paying people to buy stuff. That, my friends, is not a sustainable economy!

    The NI Economy is becoming a bit like the hospital with no patients in the famous episode of Yes, Minister. The Minister is warned that he can’t close the hospital because it would cost 500 jobs – despite the fact all the beds are empty! ‘But there are no patients’, says Hacker of the hospital. ‘But there are no exports and no wealth creation’, says I of the NI economy.

    What we need is similar growth in manufacturing and services.