Ljubljana, 17 October (STA) - The construction of the long-awaited first Ikea shop in Slovenia has officially started as the foundation stone was laid on Thursday in the BTC shopping district in Ljubljana. The 31,000 square metre shop, which is expected to employ around 300 people, is to be completed in a year's time.
The ceremony was attended by Ikea South East Europe CEO Sara Del Fabbro, who said that the company was looking forward to the opportunity to cooperate with Slovenian suppliers and local communities.
According to Del Fabbro, Ikea had wanted to open a shop in Slovenia for a long time and boost its presence in Southeast Europe. She added that the shop in eastern Ljubljana would offer a wide range of products to buyers.
The product range will suit various personalities and lifestyles and the Ikea shop in Ljubljana will be one of the most sustainable ones, she added.
Vladislav Lalić, regional property and expansion manager at Ikea South East Europe, noted that the shop would feature a small solar power plant and would also harvest rainwater.
The building is expected to be constructed in one year, while Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković is convinced that it will be finished even earlier, by the end of June 2020.
Janković told the press at the ceremony that commercial logic said that the best time to open a shop was September. "It must not be in December, because it will be too crowded [in BTC] then," he added.
The mayor announced that, by the time the shop opened, the local authorities would finish the development of all roads required for the shop that were in their jurisdiction.
He welcomed the arrival of Ikea to the capital, saying this "shows that Slovenia is developing economically and that the company has numerous consumers here, otherwise it wouldn't have decided for the move."
Janković, who believes that Slovenian suppliers will have many opportunities to cooperate with Ikea, also noted that a Slovenian company would construct the building and that the shop was a great challenge for Slovenian producers.
BTC chairman Jože Mermal said that Ikea's arrival meant "EUR 15 million in taxes for welfare and 300 new jobs," and adding that Slovenians would no longer have to spend half a day visiting Ikea shops in the neighbouring countries.
This advantage was also stressed by Lalić, who said that "we saw that many Slovenians shop in Austria, Croatia and Italy," he said, noting that the shop would stand only 3.5 kilometres from the city centre.
The ceremony was also attended by Samuel Ulfgard of the Swedish Embassy in Vienna, which also covers Slovenia. He said he was looking forward to Swedish products entering Slovenian homes.
The shop will also feature a playground, a restaurant with 450 seats, a cafe, a Swedish food shop, a parking lot for more than 170 bicycles and 1,000 cars, five charging stations for electric vehicles and a bicycle rental station.