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Ikea pulls back on U.S. expansions

It’s starting to appear that Ikea’s Columbus store, which opened last year, may be one of its last U.S. openings, at least for a while.

Storied home furnishings retailer Ikea appears to be pulling back on opening any new stores in the United States, cancelling plans to open stores in Nashville; Cary, N.C.; and Glendale, Ariz., USA Today and other media outlets have reported.

The Columbus store, which opened a year ago, was Ikea’s second in Ohio, with the store in Butler County’s West Chester Twp. being its first. The West Chester store opened in 2008. The company today has 48 U.S. stores, its web site shows.

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The pull-back on U.S. expansions appears to be a new overall approach rather than any reaction to specific markets.

When the company cancelled plans to open a North Carolina store last month, a city official in Cary, N.C.. Sean Stegall, released a statement saying that IKEA’s Real Estate Manager Bob Grimsley told him that “because of IKEA’s evolving business model, there will be no store in Cary. They are moving away from suburban big box retail outlets and into global city centers. We are obviously very disappointed.”

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IKEA CEO Jesper Brodin has been looking to boost the company’s online presence and to move further into international and Asian markets.

At least one new store is still in the works. In March, Ikea broke ground for a new ground for a 289,000-square-foot IKEA in Live Oak, Texas outside San Antonio.

The company has 414 stores in 49 countries.

While this may appear to be a tough time for brick-and-mortar retail outlets, some companies are thriving.

Loren DeFilippo, director of research-Ohio for real estate firm Collier’s International, told this news outlet recently that the idea of a “retail apocalypse” is a “myth” or at least greatly exaggerated.

“There were more (retail) store openings last year than closings,” DeFilippo said last week.

Fashion and apparel retailers in particular are fighting the current online environment, he said.

But other retailers are finding their way and even expanding, DeFilippo said.

“It’s more what they call ‘multi-channel retailing,’” he said. “The combination of in-store experience along with an online presence. It’s bringing all the different ways to shop into one place — and also creating a customer experience that is unforgettable and keeps bringing people back for more.”

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