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Last Updated: Friday, 26 January 2007, 14:08 GMT
Work starting on first Ikea store
Ikea store
Work has now begun on Ireland's first Ikea store
Work on Ireland's first Ikea store has got under way in east Belfast.

The furniture store, to be located at the Holywood Exchange, will be the size of five football pitches and employ 500 people. It is due to open in November.

Belfast Lord Mayor Pat McCarthy cut the first sod at the 29,000 square metres site on Friday.

Mr McCarthy said the arrival of the Swedish retailer was a "step in the right direction for the social and economic development of the area".

"People who I have spoken to since the planning permission was announced by the secretary of state before Christmas are excited at the prospect of the new store being ready by the end of this year," Mr McCarthy said.

Sod cutting
Lord Mayor Pat McCarthy cut the first sod on the site
The outlet, near George Best Belfast City Airport, will include a Swedish food hall, 400-seat restaurant, cafe, creche and a large car park.

Store manager Paul Reid said "the focus now is on recruitment".

"We've got 450 co-workers to recruit now - we are basically training and developing them between now and when the store opens," he said.

"It's about making sure they are trained and knowledgeable about our products so that on the opening day, we have people there who can help our customers in a good way."

How Ikea might impact on other local firms

Ikea gets go-ahead for city store
21 Dec 06 |  Northern Ireland
Ikea to bring 400 jobs to Belfast
26 Jan 06 |  Northern Ireland
Retail giant Ikea plans NI store
25 Jan 06 |  Northern Ireland

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