Ikea will be starting to recruit workers to plan and build its new store in Auckland within the next few weeks.
Ikea NZ market leader Will Edwards says the Swedish homewares giant will open an office in Auckland shortly and begin recruiting about 50 people who will be involved in project management, construction and store layout. By the time the first customers walk through the doors, about 400-500 people will be wearing the chain’s blue and yellow uniform.
“We will soon start to introduce the people of New Zealand to our employment offer and will go to various populations: it’s not just Auckland,” says Edwards. “We will be establishing in the southern island and other parts of New Zealand. Very soon after starting the Auckland process we must start the processes for the other parts.
“It takes quite some people to bring [a store] up out of the ground and we start recruiting very very early in the process,” Edwards says. “You’re looking at about 50 people to start the project in the early stages and then as we build up to the store opening. Typically about 12-18 months before, we start the core recruitment – about 400-500 for the size of the Auckland store we are planning.”
Ikea manager Will Edwards (left) and group global CEO Jesper Brodin have given few details about the exact location of Auckland’s new Ikea story.
Most of the people Edwards refers to as “co-workers”, will have roles in sales, customer service, cash handling roles – but the restaurant, famous for its meatballs, also needs a large food service team.
Edwards suggests the on-site restaurant may even offer hangi: “We haven’t designed the New Zealand menu yet. It will complement the Swedish core of our range but I’m sure with the range of food in New Zealand, there are dishes that require competence. There’s a potential for us to provide facilities around the store to have some kind of social area to gather and cook hangi – we want to look at all the cultural elements.”
And in the background is “a robust logistics operation, a well-developed communication and interior design team, support people in talent management and competence development, organisation, finance and administration, property management, compliance, procurement and many other roles to make the front of house work in a good way”.
Most of the roles are typical to a big-box store but Edwards says possibly the most unusual roles would be in the “as is” recovery department where unwanted or damaged furniture ends up.
“We don’t throw anything away – we recover as much as possible and our recovery team are constantly building and separating waste and looking at the recycling opportunities to recover as much as possible.”
And although Ikea is in 50 countries around the world and the New Zealand project will call on the experience of staff overseas, Edwards says the Swedish-based company looking at developing a local internship and is focused on identifying and hiring local talent.
“We know there’s already a lot of people living in New Zealand who have an Ikea history or have knowledge about Ikea that we would consider bringing in in the early stages.”
Edwards says the pay on offer is “good, comparably better than most”.
Perks include financial support for training – locally and at the Ikea training school in Delft, the Netherlands – long-service benefits and bonuses, a private superannuation scheme on top of KiwiSaver, a 15 per cent staff discount on Ikea products and discounts for retirees, external services offering coaching, counselling and health and wellbeing services, as well as 26 weeks paid parental leave and global opportunities within the Ikea empire. Work uniforms and carparking are also free.
“We also offer community and family leave above and beyond what most employers do – for example, one day per year of paid leave to perform voluntary work.”
The staff restaurant also offers a “broad, diverse and localised range” of food at “ridiculously low” prices as well as free tea, coffee and fruit.
“We pay people fairly for the work they do but we don’t expect them to do ridiculous amounts of overtime. We expect them to have a good worklife balance. We recruit with a long-term intention. We want you for as long as you will stay through every life stage.”
Edwards says staff turnover is typically high in the first year after an Ikea store opens but stabilises afterwards.
“We have coworkers who have been with us 25, 30, 40 and 50 years or more.”
And those who stay can gain top roles: Edwards began an entry-level role in the warehouse, helping customers to get their goods and has worked in Ikea stores around the world before beginning the set-up for New Zealand.
“There are many examples where people have started at entry level roles and are now on boards or running executive functions. You can, if you want, go all the way.”