Ikea has started construction on its first new UK store in seven years.
The site of the new warehouse store is in Reading and it will be the company's 19th location in the UK. It is estimated that the store will create 350 jobs, covering a range of responsibilities including customer relations, sales, interior design, logistics and positions in the shop's cafe.
Gillian Drakeford, Ikea UK country retail manager, cut the ribbon on the construction of the 32,000 square metre site. Commenting on the project, she said: "As the first new store to be built in the UK in seven years, the start of work on the IKEA Reading store is a really important milestone for our expansion plans as we look to make IKEA more accessible to many more people".
The new store is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016 and Ikea has also invested £4 million improving surrounding roads. Work has included creating a new junction on the A4.
Store manager Johanna Heuren said she was delighted to kick off the development of the new store. "Over the coming months, we will be focused on finding passionate and curious co-workers to join our team and getting to know the local area better to ensure that Ikea meets the needs of both our customers and our community."
Local councillor Gordon Lundie said he was pleased to welcome Ikea to the area, adding that he looks forward to the store opening next summer. "Ikea has an impressive commitment to their co-workers and to working with the communities it operates within, and I look forward to working in partnership to ensure that Ikea has a positive impact in Berkshire," he added.
The Swedish furniture company recently announced its plans to implement the living wage across its British workforce. It said the new pay rate would affect half of its 9,000 UK employees.
In addition, the company has suggested that it could be opening smaller stores. The firm traditionally operates from large warehouses outside of city centres, but these more central locations – such as high street shops and order and collection points – could make the company's product range more accessible to a wider range of consumers.
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