MANAMA: The wait is finally over for Bahrain’s shoppers, as IKEA today opens its biggest store in the Mena region to the public.
The Swedish furniture giant’s new outlet, in Salmabad, was officially launched by Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa in a ceremony yesterday.
It has a retail area of about 37,000sqm, bigger than five football fields, and includes a 6,200sqm showroom, a 6,000sqm market hall for accessories, a 5,000sqm self-serve area and a 4,000sqm full-serve area.
The BD47 million facility also includes 50 room settings showcasing home furnishing solutions, a restaurant with a capacity of up to 650 seats, a 220sqm free-of-charge play facility called Smaland and 1,200 parking spaces.
Yesterday’s opening ceremony was held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, and was attended by more than 200 guests including ministers and members of the Crown Prince’s Court, business community leaders, partners and consultants.
Speaking at the event, Saud Al Sulaiman, the chief executive of the store’s Saudi Arabia-based operator Ghassan Ahmed Al Sulaiman Furniture Trading, thanked the leadership and the government of Bahrain for their support and said “the kingdom’s business-friendly nature and potential made the move to Bahrain an easy decision for us.”
The company has invested BD47m in the project and had been waiting for the right time to expand into new markets, he said.
“Since its inception in 1943, IKEA has successfully created affordable home-furnishing solutions for many people. Our partnership with the brand began in the year 1983.”
The store will offer a range of more than 8,500 products and services such as home delivery, assembly, planning, exchange and returns.
The chief executive said IKEA would also make online shopping available to customers in Bahrain.
“IKEA Bahrain will have something for everyone, from home furnishing to food. With the opening of the store, people in Bahrain will easily have access to affordable home furnishing solutions,” added Mr Al Sulaiman.
Ground was broken on the project on October 30, 2016 and Mr Al Sulaiman said he was “very proud of how the construction of the store had progressed”.
He said the project led to the creation of a total of 600 jobs in Bahrain, 320 of which are direct jobs at the store.
Recruitment for the store began in September 2017 and IKEA has visited several universities and institutes in Bahrain since then.
“We have been working very closely with Labour Ministry and are happy to announce that we have provided 320 jobs to the local market. We are also very proud of our significant contribution to Bahrainisation, with 66pc of our co-workers being Bahrainis,” said Mr Al Sulaiman.
IKEA Bahrain will open from 9am to 10pm, Sundays to Wednesdays, and from 9am to 1am, Thursdays to Saturdays.