IKEA counters John Lewis protests over east end store

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Representatives of IKEA have mounted a robust defence of their ambitions for the east end of Sheffield in response to opposition from John Lewis.

They have produced evidence in an attempt to show that the proposed development near Meadowhall would have little impact on both the city centre - predicting a drop in trade of only 0.3% - and the Barkers Pool store.

And the city centre would benefit overall because some IKEA customers from outside Sheffield would also shop there.

The defence has been lodged with the council, which will decide whether IKEA can develop the former Betafence/Tinsley Wire land between Meadowhall retail park and Meadowhall.

IKEA anticipates a council verdict early next year, with construction starting in the summer and the store being ready towards the end of 2015.

The biggest retail critic in Sheffield is John Lewis, which has submitted two objections, the latest warning of the combined impact on the city centre of an IKEA alongside a large Next Home and Garden shop and Meadowhall.

The scenario would create an out-of-town retail “critical mass”, drawing more trade from an already “vulnerable” city centre, it is argued.

But Leeds-based planning consultants Indigo, on behalf of IKEA, suggest the city centre has little to fear.

The Sheffield IKEA is likely to compete with other IKEA stores, furniture and furnishing warehouses and specialist furniture retailers, which are usually in out-of-town locations. It is calculated that the city centre will lose only £2.7m a year, or 0.3% of its turnover.

At the same time, the new store “will have propensity to bring new customers to Sheffield”, with some of them also visiting the city centre, especially with a tramstop nearby. On this basis, it is estimated that an extra £4m will be generated for the city centre.

While the IKEA would be close to Meadowhall, any linked trips “are not anticipated to be significant”.

The consultants conclude there would be no impact on the vitality or viability of city centre.

Meanwhile, department stores such as John Lewis are described as having a different profile in terms of pricing, display and range and with a different market.

“The John Lewis furniture offer is much smaller than that available in a typical IKEA store.”

Its living room furniture range, for example, sells for between £300 and £1,650 compared with IKEA’s £100 to £500. “Moreover, IKEA trade throughout the country in cities where John Lewis are present and there is no evidence of adverse harm to their business. For example, in Southampton the stores are located within 500m and trade in a complementary manner.”