On Thursday, the investors that built the IKEA shopping centre in Vilnius and the government of the capital ceremonially put the symbolic capsule in the wall of the building for future generations. The IKEA store will open its doors in next August, and the twice as big shopping complex will be targeting buyers on the left bank of Neris.
The store is being built by Icelandic company Felita under the Swedish furniture company’s franchise. General contractor YIT Kausta is committed to completing construction by June of next year and the road from the airport to the Minsk highway will be built in the interim.
The IKEA store will be 26,000 square meters in area, with parking space for almost 1,000 cars. But that is only a part of the Felita investments. Sigurdur Palmason, Chairman of the Board of Felita, shared plans to build a shopping complex of about 40,000 square meters near the IKEA store — but this is in the design stage. Felita investments in this area will be about 100 million EUR (345 million Lt).
“We do not have any specific dates yet, on which all the shopping complex may arise, but works are proceeding quite rapidly,” said S. Palmason. “We already gained some interest of potential tenants, I do not think it will be difficult to attract them.”
“IKEA itself will be the central attraction, and not only to Vilnius or Lithuanian extent,” said Mindaugas Kulbokas, Head of Research and Consultancy for Baltic region of the NEWSEC/Re&Solution company. “The sphere of influence is much wider, including Belarus, Latvia and part of the Polish border.”
According to Kulbokas, the emergence of a new shopping complex with the flagship IKEA on the left bank of Neris will give impulse to the development of the derelict side of Vilnius, and will regroup customer flows. At this time, all major shopping centres are concentrated on the right bank of Neris.
“There is another aspect – IKEA will bring a whole new customer flow and existing shopping centers will respond positively to that,” explains Kulbokas.
For Viktoria Radzevičienė, Director of the Economy of JSC Ogmios Center, which holds a specialized furniture and interior shopping center Domus gallery, IKEA’s arrival in Lithuania also assesses positively.
“We hope that the IKEA store will encourage the impulsive purchase in furniture and interior design industry, because so far that has not been in Lithuania,” said Radzevičienė. “We believe that emergence of economic class standard in the market will accelerate its maturity. Perhaps part of the players in this sector will have to withdraw and others to rethink their position and business strategy. This factor will also encourage the education of buyers because they will be able to clearly understand what are the economic class, what to expect from it and if the quality or style is not satisfying – to look for alternatives.”
Felit carries investments in an approximately 20 ha plot, in Žirnių Street near the airport. According to Mindaugas Pakalnis, chief architect of the Vilnius municipal enterprise Vilnius plan, there are a number of similar private sites around the planned road, which will be able to develop in a similar scenario — using the attraction of IKEA shopping complex various commercial objects can be developed.