// Ikea proposes to close Coventry store in summer
// The Coventry store was built in 2007 was one Ikea’s earliest examples of testing a new format
// Ikea enters consultation with 352 affected staff at the Coventry store
Ikea has announced plans to shut down its Coventry store this summer, potentially affecting 352 employees as the furniture retailer enters a consultation period with them.
The Coventry store, one of 22 Ikea stores in the UK, was built in 2007 in the city centre and was one of the Swedish retail giant’s earliest examples of testing a new format to meet changing consumer behaviours.
However, given its location and the size of the land available at the time, the store was built over seven levels.
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Ikea said this resulted in a significant impact on the operating costs of the store and the shopping experience for customers.
The retailer added that changing behaviour of local customers who prefer to shop in retail parks and online has resulted in visitor numbers being “substantially” lower than expected and continuing to decrease over time.
Ikea said all of these factors led to its Coventry store making consistent losses.
The retailer has tried a number of initiatives over the years to drive sales growth and make the store more cost efficient, such as moving various business operations to the site.
However, it said these initiatives “have not resolved the fundamental challenges connected to the location and the format of the store”.
Ikea also said it looked at options for downsizing or re-configuring the Coventry store, but the nature of the site meant this was “not a realistic option”.
Ikea will now enter a period of consultation with the 352 store employees to discuss the proposals and next steps.
The furniture giant stressed that it wanted to “retain as many people as possible” within the company and, where this isn’t possible, support them to find new employment.
During the consultation period, the Coventry store will remain open.
Upon the proposed closure of the Coventry store in summer, customers will still be able to shop in three standard Ikea stores locally in Nottingham, Milton Keynes and Birmingham or online.
“The proposed closure of the store has not been an easy decision, particularly given the impact it will have on our co-workers,” Ikea UK country manager Peter Jelkeby said.
“I would like to thank our Coventry co-workers who have contributed enormously throughout this time.
“Although this isn’t an easy decision, this is the right decision for the long-term success of Ikea in the UK.”
Jelkeby added that Ikea would continue to trial and invest in new stores, fulfilment centres, city centre formats and digital capabilities as part of the retailer’s continued commitment in the UK.
The retailer pointed to its big box store opening in Greenwich last year, along with two planning studios in inner London and the acquisition of a Hammersmith shopping centre for a new small-format city store as examples of its commitment in the country.
IKEA said it was also exploring alternative ways to continue serving customers in Coventry, such as the introduction of click-and-collect points across the city.
More information on the proposed store closure and introduction of collection points will be announced in due course.