MANILA • Ikea opened its biggest store in the world in the Philippines, with the new 730,000 sq ft facility in Manila a cornerstone of the home-furnishing giant's expansion plans in Asia.
Yesterday's opening was feted with an event held at the store's cafeteria attended by Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin, where Ikea's cult-favourite Swedish meatballs were served. The dish was given a Philippine twist - the tangy sweet adobo sauce.
Ikea is sticking to Covid-19 protocols, with an online booking system that is full for the next two weeks, said store manager Georg Platzer. Customers have to wear masks and observe distancing.
The building houses a two-level 270,000 sq ft store, dining area and showroom; warehouses; an e-commerce facility; and a call centre.
Its opening comes as Ikea expands its e-commerce presence, which proved timely during the pandemic, with online orders now accounting for 26 per cent of its global sales.
The company, which has more than 460 physical stores in about 60 markets, is planning to add nearly 60 more locations in the current financial year. It is not just looking towards Asia: It will take its first step into South America this spring, opening a branch in Santiago, Chile.
Mr Platzer said the Philippines had "been the right spot on our map for the longest time".
"It's a very good growing economy, growing middle class and domestic environment that's good for us as a home-furnishing retailer. I think it's about time to open it, finally," he added.
Household spending fuelled the Philippine economy's recovery last quarter, with consumption expected to grow further in the fourth quarter as virus curbs are eased in time for the holidays. But output is not expected to return to pre-pandemic level till the latter half of next year.