Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

First of Ikea Blue Goes Up; Hiring Begins This Summer

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

First of Ikea Blue Goes Up; Hiring Begins This Summer

Article excerpt

Byline: Roger Bull

Right now, it's mostly just metal beams with the April wind whipping through them. The ground inside is dotted with puddles from the week's rain.

There's no Swedish meatballs yet. But the first of the big, blue panels went up this week and pretty soon, the new IKEA store will look like an IKEA store.

Construction continues on the new store at Gate Parkway and Interstate 295. But no opening date has been set.

"We're just saying it will open in the fall," said spokesman Joseph Roth. "Until it's enclosed and dried in, we don't even want to fantasize."

The Sweden-based company has 398 stores in 48 countries, including 43 stores in the United States, The most recent one in the U.S. opened in Memphis in December. The next one will be Columbus, Ohio, this summer. Besides Columbus, stores are under construction in Indianapolis and Dallas, its second. Six more are in the planning stage.

The stores are almost always destinations. About one-third of all customers, Roth said, come from more than an hour away.

The Jacksonville store will hire more than 250 employees, he said. The company will start posting openings for managerial positions this month. Hiring for the rest will begin in the summer.

He said he didn't know the salary range yet, but the lowest salaries are always above minimum wage. Anyone working 20 hours a week or more will get full benefits, he said. Even those working less can be eligible for benefits such as vacation, parental leave and tuition reimbursement.

The store will be 290,000 square feet, about the average size for an IKEA. The Orlando store is 309,000 square feet, but it's two stories while Jacksonville's is one.

"Once you subtract the escalator, five elevators and about 10 staircases," Roth said, "it's probably the same size."

For the record, the largest U.S. store is 456,000 square feet in Burbank, Calif. …

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