'New Zealand could be in for a surprise': Retail expert's Ikea predictions

As eager Kiwis count down for our first Ikea opening, a retail expert says "New Zealand could be in for a surprise".

Bosses from the homeware giant will arrive in Auckland on Friday for a launch event, where they are expected to provide further information.

The Swedish firm says it's got a franchisee lined up to open the furniture chain here, but hasn't released details on the location - or the size.

Ikea has been experimenting with a mixture of megastores and smaller format stores around the world, including click-and-collect options.

First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson says it's an exciting time for Kiwis.

"Everyone is waiting with bated breath - especially consumers," he told Newshub.

"The reality is with how models are changing anything is possible."

One option could be smaller stores. In overseas models, these are smaller-selection showrooms with touchscreen computers that shoppers use to order and arrange pickups and deliveries. The actual products are stored offsite.

"The smaller stores are an edited version of the Ikea ranges, a curated selection specific to the market," Mr Wilkinson says.

"With smaller stores there's more emphasis on delivery to homes."

But he thinks it's most likely the first store will be the traditional large-format store.

"Ikea is still essentially new to New Zealand, they do need to demonstrate they have the depth of range," he says.

"Also what makes Ikea special is the in-store experience for customers, the immersive experience of going to the store and the in-store restaurant."

Mr Wilkinson is picking the store will open in Auckland, at Newmarket's 277 or at Sylvia Park if there's the capacity.

Dr Bodo Lang, head of the University of Auckland's Business School and Marketing Department, told Newshub he expects Ikea will be careful about how it sets up.

"If they open with the traditional mega stores we're used to from overseas, I think that's what people are expecting, and if that happens I think there will be a lot of excitement in the market," he said last month.

"There's a signal that comes when Ikea opens in a country like New Zealand. It's that we've finally made it onto the world stage and our retail landscape is like that of other countries."

The move will not be welcomed by furniture stores in New Zealand like Freedom Furniture and Harvey Norman, he said.

"All the other bigger chains, Harvey Norman, Freedom Furniture, and the others, will all be worried about it, particularly the ones that are really focused on furniture."

And Mr Wilkinson warns Ikea will be prepared to take these other stores on.

"This is new territory for them. It's their first store in New Zealand, so they'll be studying how other retailers are operating," he told Newshub.