Irish consumers sweet on Swedes

The new year is a quarter gone, and it’s fair to say IKEA have spent more time filling newspaper column inches than avoiding them. With the company’s Ballymun store well-established and performing strongly, The Hardware Journal decided to take a trip out to the iconic brand’s ‘click-and-collect’ store in Carrickmines – open since 2016 – to see how this newer, smaller store format is finding its feet with Irish shoppers.

Of all the headlines to emanate from IKEA in recent times, the biggest story to most recently affect the Swedish furniture giant was undoubtedly the passing of their founder – Ingvar Kamprad – at the age of 91. While his death triggered many in-depth reviews of all that Kamprad and his company had achieved, IKEA are constantly looking to the future, exploring various ways to innovate and continually revolutionise people’s interpretation of what their homes either are or can be.

Specifically, in Ireland, IKEA has shaken up the home décor industry like nothing this country has ever seen before. And for the company itself, Ireland has proved a vital asset in their quest for global domination. Out of all of IKEA’s more than 350 stores in 29 countries, the Dublin branch – opened in 2009 and located in Ballymun – is the second-best performing in the ‘home decoration’ category, and the third-best performing store in the ‘lighting’ category, in terms of overall group sales.

Most recently, rumours of a potential second Irish store in the south of Dublin abounded, when details of a meeting between Ikea and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council surfaced through various Irish media outlets. While an IKEA spokesperson confirmed at the time that the company has “no confirmed plans for the development of an IKEA store at the moment”, the performance of the Ballymun location must surely give them food for thought.

In the meantime, the Carrickmines ‘click-and-collect’ store offers shoppers a more streamlined, direct and light-on-cardio shopping experience, with a floor space of 15,000 square feet – a mere 5% of the total coverage of Ballymun’s near unfathomable 300,000 square feet. Surrounded by ample parking, the giant, towering entrance belies the compact campus inside. As first impressions go once one walks through the door, the Carrickmines store doesn’t disappoint, with a stylish, contemporary and attention-grabbing bedroom display front and centre. Store navigation seamlessly presents itself in a circular format, with a natural anti-clockwise inclination reminiscent of its North Dublin bigger cousin. Lighting is present yet not too strong, allowing the natural explosion of contrasting colours to shine through the various functional displays, from several bedroom ideas to kitchen, living room, and one particularly eye-catching studio apartment mock-up.

When The Hardware Journal visited, staff at the Carrickmines click-and-collect store could all be found huddled around a nest of computers in the middle of this miniaturised flatpack colosseum, and while the idea might be to encourage customers to embark on their own exploratory journey instore, the lack of attention from staff did just reach a feeling of conspicuousness, before an employee eventually approached us offering assistance. That aside, the size and variety of displays all lend to an overall pleasant shopping experience. A small cafeteria towards the back boasts vibrant displays of purchasable product too, as well as ample seating for those looking to take a break from planning their refurbishments with refreshments.

The whole idea of this store format is to help inspire, as opposed to coercing impulse purchases through an abundance of product layered along miles of winding displays. IKEA describe it as a “planning studio”, lending inspirational ideas for those in the more conceptual stages of home decoration. While there are some smaller items available for purchase in store, the goal is to help solidify ideas for shoppers before proceeding
to order larger items in store, to be made available for either delivery or in-store collection soon thereafter.

Until any plans for potential new stores in the Republic of Ireland take a more defined shape, IKEA’s ‘click-and-collect’ store in Carrickmines offers consumers a gateway to the brand’s signature style and practicality, without the need to tool up on survival materials ahead of a perilous trek out to the Ballymun behemoth. For that alone, it is most definitely worth the visit.