IKEA signs contract with Loulé Câmara

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

IKEA and the Municipality of Loulé signed a cooperation agreement on December 2 that will allow the building of an IKEA store, a shopping centre and a retail park at Caliços, near the junction of Loulé-Sul and the A22-Via do Infante.

According to IKEA Portugal and Inter IKEA Centre Portugal who develop, own and manage shopping centres in partnership with IKEA, this project will see an investment of €200 million and will create 3,000 jobs in the region.

A spokesman from IKEA told the Algarve Resident: “This will be a positive investment for social and economic development for the Algarve. The opening of an IKEA store as well as a shopping centre and retail park built in the same commercial area will be a unique project for the Algarve, with high importance for the Municipality of Loulé and the region.”

Kristina Johansson, Country Manager IKEA Portugal, said: “The signing of this agreement marks a very important step for the fulfilment of the plan for expansion of IKEA in Portugal.”

She said the Portuguese market is very important for the IKEA group: “We work every day to fulfil our investment plan, which includes seven stores and a retail park, three shopping centres and two retail parks Inter IKEA Centre Portugal, as well as three furniture factories Swedwood in Portugal.

“IKEA’s commitment is to create opportunities for economic and social growth in the places where we open our stores.”

The first IKEA store in Portugal opened in Alfragide, in the Lisbon area, in June 2004 and was followed by the opening of a store in Matosinhos in the north of Portugal in July 2007.

The newest IKEA store opened in Loures in May. In total, these three stores employ 1,500 people.

Meanwhile, the region’s retailers association (ACRAL) has voiced its concern about the construction of this “large surface area”.

João Rosado, president of ACRAL, told the Algarve Resident: “The 3,000 jobs that IKEA says it will create in the region will have a negative impact on the traditional trade and will actually create a further 12,000 unemployed beyond the 24,000 that are already registered at the Employment and Professional Training Institute (IEFP).”

João Rosado cited a study by Universidade Católica which indicates that for every job created in a large surface trade area, four are lost in the local traditional businesses.

He also referred to another study, conducted by the Regional Department of Economics of the Algarve, which said there was “an excess of large surface shopping areas” in the Algarve.

“This project will be a blow to the economy of the region. There is an excess of commercial complexes like this in the Algarve and this will aggravate the situation.”

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]