New Zealanders pick where first Ikea store should open

Ikea has announced it will open in New Zealand and now speculation is mounting as to where its first store will be.

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.

As anticipation builds, Kiwis are taking to the 'Ikea is coming to NZ' Facebook page to list where they hope the first store will emerge.

"Wellington sits nicely in the middle of New Zealand. Perfect location for the first Ikea store," one Wellingtonian wrote.

"One in the North Island and one in the South Island would be perfect," another commented.

Others were hopeful that smaller locations could be the first to benefit.

"Palmerston North (or the Manawatu) would be a great location. It's now the central hub for Foodstuffs and other major distributors," said one person.

"Tauranga the place to be, all the Aucklanders have moved down here!!" another exclaimed.

Newshub's Simon Shepherd is a big Ikea fan, having spent a small fortune on it when living in London.

"I am an inner westie, so closer to New Lynn would be ideal," he says.

"However a big box store needs good road links so people can load up their urban tractor SUVs. IKEA usually heads to the urban outskirts to find the space it needs. So picking Westgate, Albany or south Auckland."

Albany would be bad news for Newshub managing editor Mark Longley, who detests the Ikea "hell".

"Opening an Ikea anywhere in Auckland is too close for me, but if they do pick a site then if they could keep it away from the North Shore where I live, and that includes Albany," he says.

"There is speculation the Swedish furniture giant may open in Westgate and the locals will be very excited, but trust me it won't be long until they come to loathe the place."

Rumours in 2011 that an IKEA store would open at Auckland's Westgate turned out to be unfounded, but many Kiwis are ignoring Longley's advice and hoping this could be the year.

"Westgate would be perfect for it," one person wrote.

Campbell Barbour, general manager of landowner New Zealand Retail Property Group, which owns the Westgate site in Auckland, says this locations would be good for Ikea.

"The site is a great location because it's got motorway connections and it's a new metropolitan town centre for Auckland," he told NZME in December.

Dr Bodo Lang, head of the University of Auckland's Business School and Marketing Department, says the most likely place for a mega store is Auckland.

The retailer looks for areas with more than 1.5 million people within a 48km radius to establish a mega store. That leaves Auckland as the only viable option for a mega store to be opened.

"Some of us expect there to be mega stores everywhere, but based on my knowledge, I think the only viable place for a mega store in New Zealand is Auckland," Dr Lang said in December.

"We could have two of them here but there's no other region in New Zealand that comes close to having a million people within one hours' car ride.

"I don't know if we'll get three mega stores in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch - I'm just not sure about that."