Ikea to create 1,300 UK jobs in post-Brexit boost for retail sector

The Swedish furniture company also reaffirmed its commitment to pay all workers the Real Living Wage

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The Independent Online

Ikea announced it will create 1,300 jobs in the UK by the end of 2018, in a post-Brexit boost for Britain’s retail sector.

The company said on Wednesday it had begun construction on the first of three new stores. The site in Exeter will create 350 of the new jobs announced. A further 480 jobs, including 380 in-store and 100 call centre roles, will be created in Sheffield, with the remaining 500 in Greenwich.

Ikea also reaffirmed its commitment to pay all workers the Real Living Wage - a voluntary rate currently set at £9.75 per hour in London and £8.45 elsewhere in the UK. In 2015, the Swedish home furnishings company was the first in the UK to guarantee workers the Real Living Wage.

The official national minimum wage is currently lower, at £7.50 for over-25s and £7.05 for under-25s. 

The new roles will be in a number of departments, including store management, food and beverage, customer relations, sales, interior design, IT, sustainability and marketing, Ikea said.

After completion of the three new locations, Ikea will have 22 stores across the UK, and employ a total of 11,700 people in the country across all of its operations.

The news comes amid a darkening picture for the UK’s retail sector as the latest data showed consumer spending growth is slowing while inflation has picked up.

Last month, official figures showed retail sales fell at their fastest quarterly rate in seven years during the first three months of 2017.

Companies are facing increased import costs due to a weakened pound as well as rising staff costs after increases to the national minimum wage. Bricks and mortar retailers are also contending with longer-term upheaval associated with a move to online shopping.

Bucking the gloomy trend, in November 2016, Ikea announced its fifth consecutive year of growth in the UK with annual sales up 8.9 per cent to £1.72 bn. 

Gillian Drakeford, country retail manager for Ikea UK & Ireland, said on Wednesday: “As we continue to expand, we’re delighted to bring investment to new areas across the country and create new opportunities for local communities."