BY JAMES TWOMEY
A new IKEA is opening this week which has created 500 jobs and which management say will be a building which will involve community groups as much as possible.
The Swedish furniture-making giant opens its doors on Thursday on the Greenwich Peninsula, and has promised to provide more than just furniture.
Store manager Helen Aylett said: “We’re trying to create a space where people can meet, share, learn and shop in their community.”
The store has installed green technologies such as solar panels, rainwater harvesting, renewable construction materials and a geothermal heating system.
The company says it has tried to employ locally, and of the 500 employees more than 70 per cent live locally with 54 per cent from the borough.
Hiring residents has created jobs locally, but also cut staff commuting times.
They have said they will pay their employees the living wage, a minimum of £10.55. Dayo Afalabi, 23, from Lewisham, is among the staff.
He joined IKEA at the end of August when he heard the new store would be launched close to home.
He was struggling for work as a video editor and decided to apply for the kitchen department.
He said: “I think it’s a great idea to have the IKEA in this area, it’s created various jobs for lots of people and has a positive effect on the community.”
Aisha Mohammed, 29, who works in the new children’s furniture section said: “It’s all sustainable and most staff live nearby so they can walk or get the train.”
“I have lived in Greenwich since 2011, me and my neighbours have wanted an IKEA for ages. “I saw the job adverts and thought I should just apply.
“There’s more flats and apartments in the area so the store is needed and it has created more jobs.”
Management want to bring more people into the store with a co-working space, a creche, a rooftop garden, the biggest restaurant in South London and a learning lab that residents can bring their broken furniture to and learn how to repair it.
Nerrisa Pratt, 28, IKEA Greenwich’s upcycling expert, will provide help during the free workshops.
She said: “We want to teach customers how to re-purpose, recycle and personalise their items. “We provide the tools to teach people how to be creative and they don’t even have to bring in IKEA items.”
Building the shop has taken four years and talks with Greenwich council have provided £2million to improve the roads, following a legally binding “Section 106” agreement.
IKEA Greenwich has also sponsored an ecology park next to the store and is working with three local schools to share its expertise on sustainable living.