Loulé mayor fights to  keep IKEA in Portugal

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

Swedish furniture group IKEA is planning to expand across Portugal, including an IKEA store and Inter IKEA Centre Group shopping centre near Parque das Cidades in Loulé.

Loulé mayor Seruca Emídio told Lusa news agency that the company has acquired about a dozen parcels of private land with a total area of around 40 hectares.

If the project is approved, “it will be the largest structure of the group in the Iberian Peninsula and we are very interested in hosting it”, said Seruca Emídio.

Representatives of the IKEA group have already been in Loulé to attend a meeting with the mayor, who said he expects that “no obstacles will arise to hinder the business because if the project is not approved, the alternative will probably be Spain”.

He added: “The IKEA group has a store in Alfragide, Lisbon, and one in Seville and now wants to fill the geographic gap between the two, which includes the Algarve, Alentejo and Huelva (Spain) areas.”

Parque das Cidades has been identified as a likely spot for the project but has traffic issues with the construction of a new hospital and access to the stadium on match days. The old Unicer facilities have also been put forward for consideration.

“The location is not the most important issue. We just want the investment to stay in the Loulé county,” said Seruca Emídio.

António Machado, who is responsible for IKEA in Portugal, told the Algarve Resident: “The fundamental principle of the IKEA expansion is to get our stores, products and home solutions closer to our clients. The investment project for the Algarve region is still in the early stages.

“We have set the area where the store and the shopping centre will be built and now are working with Loulé Câmara and the commission for coordination and development of the Algarve region (CCDR  Algarve), in order to comply with all the normal procedures.”

This investment is valued at 200 million euros and will create 3,000 jobs in an area of 120,000 square metres.

The company’s total investment in Portugal is out at 1.1 billion euros for seven stores – Alfragide, which has been open since 2004, Matosinhos, opened in 2007, Loures, opening this summer, Gaia,  Loulé, and two other stores yet to be opened, one in the centre of Portugal and another in Lisbon, three shopping centres, MAR Shopping at Matosinhos, Inter IKEA Centre Group in the Algarve and another in a location yet to be defined, and three Swedwood Portugal industrial units (a sub group that manufactures IKEA furniture) in Paços de Ferreira.