Jobs boost for Sheffield as Ikea announces 100 extra roles
Ikea will employ an extra 100 people at its new Sheffield superstore, pushing its annual investment in the city job market to over Â£5 million.
The furniture giant revealed the jobs boost at a groundbreaking ceremony for its 20th UK branch, on the site of the former Tinsley Wire factory near Meadowhall.
A new call centre will mean 100 permanent positions on top of the 380 retail jobs already announced.
Store manager Garry Deakin said he expected the bulk of those jobs to go to Sheffield people.
The steel frame of the 33,000 sq m building has gone up in just over three weeks, and the shop is due to open by the end of the summer.
Mr Deakin said the jobs - paying a 'real living wage' of Â£8.45p per hour, minimum - would be a 'dream come true' for Sheffield workers.
He added: "We are trying to raise the bar and for the people of Sheffield, later this year is going to be a very exciting time."
The Swedish furniture heavyweight has spent several years planning its new superstore on the former Tinsley Wire site near Meadowhall.
But at the end of December the first steel girders finally went up, and less than a month later the steel frame of the shop is almost complete.
The firm was surprised by the high level of interest at two recent open days.
"We had queues waiting to come in at the city centre open day," said Mr Deakin. "Nearly 1,600 people came to talk to us. We could have stayed open another couple of hours.
"I would expect in the order of 3,000 to 4,000 people to apply."
Ikea will only offer permanent contracts, and commits to paying a 'real living wage' of Â£8.45p per hour minimum - something Mr Deakin believes will be a big boost to the Sheffield economy.
"If you are a single person, to live on less than Â£8.45p an hour is so hard to do," he said.
"For them to know that there is this amazing company prepared to pay you what hardly any other retailers is prepared to pay - it's like a dream come true."
Ikea spent more than a decade looking for a suitable location in Sheffield, initially considering the old Yorkshire Electricity Board depot off the Parkway.
Concerns about the impact on city centre shops and the road network put an end to that plan, and Ikea came back in May 2013 with the current plan for site of the former Betafence factory in Lock House Road.
Traffic was still a concern, as was pollution. Ikea will spend more than Â£2 million improving the road network around the new shop, and will put an extra Â£400,000 towards sustainable transport such as the Supertram and a cycle way.
In total the investment in Sheffield will be about Â£80 million.
"These are all positive things which can have the investment but also mitigate as much as we can," said Mr Deakin.
A management team of 75 people - two thirds of whom are from Sheffield - has been out in the city doing research into people's lifestyles and needs in order to make the new Ikea as relevant as possible.
Speaking directly to city residents, Mr Deakin said: "We are going to build you the newest Ikea store, that will be so inspiring and based on Sheffield people and how they live.
"All the room sets will be designed for local market relevance. They will be designed and built for Sheffield."
Ikea is one of several large projects in the Tinsley area, the biggest of which is the Â£300 million Meadowhall extension. There are also plans to bring investment into nearby Attercliffe.
"What's exciting is the fact that people are talking about Sheffield," said Mr Deakin.
"It can only be good for the people who live here."
Sheffield Council's deputy leader Leigh Bramall added: “We know many people have been anticipating Ikea’s arrival in Sheffield. That’s why we’ve worked hard with Ikea to make this happen.
"The new store will redevelop a derelict site and bring jobs and investment to the city, whilst adding to Sheffield’s retail offer, so it’s great news.”