IKEA’s store in the Philippines officially opened to the public Thursday, in a ceremony led by company representatives, local government officials and the new Swedish envoy to the Philippines.
IKEA Pasay City is the Swedish furniture maker’s largest outlet at 65,000 square meters. It houses retail operations, a restaurant, a market hall, a warehouse, and a call center for its e-commerce wing.
Preparations for the Philippine branch began in 2016, while the construction was first announced in 2018. It was supposed to open in 2020, but was delayed due to the pandemic.
“After several years of preparation, we are ready now to live our vision of creating a better everyday life for the many people of the Philippines,” store manager Georg Platzer said during the opening event.
“Our vision also includes enabling sustainable and affordable life at home,” he said.
Shopping started at 10 a.m., but entry to the store is limited to ensure safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, Platzer said.
To do this, consumers must book a slot before being allowed to shop.
Health protocols will be observed, including the mandatory wearing of face masks.
IKEA said it would keep the maximum number of people inside its 5-storey building to half of its capacity, including staff, at any given time.
Those who prefer to stay at home can shop online through its official website.
With the opening, at least 600 workers were directly hired, while another 1,000 job opportunities were generated in other areas such as security and logistics, Platzer said.
Aside from affordable furniture and its famous Swedish meatballs, IKEA brought to the country its remarkable labor and business practices, Thunborg said.
“IKEA is a leading company when it comes to not practicing contractualization,” she said.
“Economic sustainability is another value that comes with IKEA. The absence of corruption and the promotion of transparency,” she added.
IKEA earlier assured the public that stocks are enough for its opening despite the supply chain and logistics problems it encountered due to the pandemic.
IKEA, located within the Mall of Asia compound, is currently SM’s largest tenant. Its marriage with the Sy-led group is one “without divorce,” SM Supermalls president Steven Tan said at the opening ceremony.
Tan said the Sy family and the SM management sought partnerships with IKEA as early as 2010.
“It was so apparent that our values then and now are seamlessly interlocked, that it is inevitable that SM and IKEA will end up together, a marriage without divorce,” Tan said.
“Together we will change Filipinos lives for the better,” he added.
When asked if there would be more IKEA stores in the country, Platzer said “it’s just a matter of time.”
Despite consumer spending being hit by the pandemic, Platzer said he is confident Filipinos who find joy in “decluttering” their homes would drive sales even when there is less cash to spend.