IKEA's decision to pull out of a flagship store in the North West will be a "massive loss to Lancashire," says Nigel Evans MP, who has demanded a meeting with the newly-appointed CEO of IKEA UK and Ireland.
The international ready-to-assemble furniture company, which is worth around £44b and which operates 355 of its gargantuan stores across 29 countries, withdrew from its Cuerden Strategic Site store on the boundary with the Ribble Valley two days ago due to plummeting UK profits.
The decision has prompted Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, to request a meeting with CEO of IKEA UK and Ireland, Javier Quiñones, to discuss the company's decision to seek a new location due to "increased development costs and delays outside of IKEA’s control" despite work having already started on the new site.
“I was disappointed to hear of IKEA’s decision to withdraw, I need to understand the exact reasons behind this to ensure that a solution is found which benefits all parties," said Mr Evans. "I have already contacted IKEA to arrange a meeting with their UK CEO to discuss what problems have led to this conclusion, which is a massive loss to the Lancashire as a whole.
"Whilst there was clear issues with congestion and the traffic that the site would create, I was confident that this could be resolved," he added of the site, which would have created around 4,500 new jobs - 350 of which would have been at the new store. "I had contacted LCC on several occasions to ensure that provisions were made when the site opened.
"The site has been long in the making, and it is a real shame to be knocked back this far in."
Alongside the IKEA store, which would have been the second largest in the UK, there was also due to be five large retail units, six restaurants, hundreds of houses, and a 2,000-space carpark on the £36 million development in South Ribble; a major boon to the area.
“I will be doing all I can to ensure IKEA reconsider their withdrawal which would bring prosperity and economic stability to Lancashire," Mr Evans said. "The Cuerden site continues to present a fantastic commercial opportunity for large businesses, with approved planning permission and convenient motorway links.”
Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, which sells 150,000,000 of its famed meatballs every year, died in January earlier this year. He started his first furniture store in 1947, building a company that has revenues of around £34b and making him one of the top 10 richest people in the world according to Forbes between 2005 and 2010.