Israelis Go IKEA Crazy
There's something about Swedish furniture that gets the heart racing.
Israel’s second IKEA store opened last week in Rishon Lezion. The store is reportedly the largest IKEA in the Middle East, stealing the coveted title from a Dubai location.
The grand opening occurred after four years of planning and over $100 million of investment money.
The Swedish home furnishing store contains a 500-seat kosher restaurant, Israel’s biggest eatery. It also has a Swedish-food shop and a falafel stand.
The store is 34,000 square meters and contains 46 showrooms and a huge warehouse for storage. The suggested course from the entrance to the cash registers is two kilometers.
When Israel’s first IKEA opened in Netanya five years ago, traffic jams turned the freeway into gridlock. This time, the store did not experience the same flood of eager shoppers due to its easy access from two large highways and its larger size.
“We had 3,500 shoppers in the first hour alone and expect to see 14,000 by the end of the day,” IKEA Israel CEO Shlomo Gabai said in an interview with the Jerusalem Post. “There is a great feeling of accomplishment today. We are on a new path.”
The store has already hired 500 local workers and will make use of hundreds of other workers for auxiliary purposes.
“The new store puts us at the forefront of Israel’s retail sector and we hope to use that position to revolutionize the way business is done. We Israelis deserve the best service possible and by providing that service here, we hope to lead others into doing the same,” Gabai told the newspaper.
The new store is not expected to hold the Middle East record for long. A bigger store is slated to open in Abu Dhabi.
Israelis are so in love with Swedish furniture that a third IKEA is slated to open in Haifa in 2012.