Canadian shoppers’ love of IKEA home furnishings seems to be stronger than ever, even after 40 years in the local marketplace, which started with the first Canadian store in Richmond on No. 3 Road near Cambie Road back in 1976.
That was the message Tuesday morning from the Swedish furniture giant’s acting president of Canadian operations, David McCabe, who was at the new Richmond store on Jacombs Road for a breakfast meeting hosted by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
“Canada’s been a great market for IKEA. We’re actually one of the highest-growing markets in the IKEA world,” McCabe told the News following the event. “And we’re delighted to have a second year of double-digit sales growth in 2016.”
Forty years ago, IKEA took the bold step of putting down roots here when the company was in few countries outside of Sweden.
“I think that’s one thing that not a lot of people are aware of,” McCabe said. “And IKEA in Canada was early in the company’s history, in general, and Vancouver, the Richmond area, was felt to be the ideal location to start that journey.
“It was always with the mindset that there’d be expansion across the country and there was a feeling this area would be a natural starting point.”
A similarity with other European markets drove the Canadian operations to now where IKEA has 12 stores across the country, with two more set to open in Halifax (N.S.) and Quebec City in 2017.
“We have an ambition to be more accessible to many more Canadians, coast to coast,” McCabe said. “And we’re looking at all the details on how we can expand and hopefully double the number of stores we have.”
Closer to home, McCabe was asked how the labour disruption at the unionized Richmond store, which lasted 17 months, had affected the local operation.
“It’s actually something that we’re very pleased and proud about how well the store, together with the union and co-workers have moved on since the dispute,” he said.
“The store goes from strength to strength. And I think everyone has come through that process much stronger, actually.
“It’s turned into an extremely positive scenario.”