Could Ikea be destined for the old Clerys premises?

O’Connell Street could be ideal as Swedish retailer looks for a more central home

Clerys Clock on O’Connell Street, Dublin. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Clerys Clock on O’Connell Street, Dublin. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

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Ikea, home of the Billy bookshelf and the Malm bed, has been busy unpacking a new business model of late, lessening its reliance on out-of-town megastores and investigating the addition of city-centre shops to its portfolio. On this basis, there’s a miserably vacant Dublin site that the Swedish furniture retailer would slot in to just perfectly: the former Clerys department store on O’Connell Street.

The building is being bought by a consortium that includes Rockerfeller Group-owned Europa Capital, the property company of Paddy McKillen jnr and his Press-Up Entertainment partner Matt Ryan, and Core Capital. But what exactly its new incarnation will look like, we don’t yet know.

Dublin City Council granted permission in 2016 for the development of a mixed-use scheme on the site – a boutique hotel, offices, retail space and leisure facilities. Restaurant, hotel and venue operator Press-Up Entertainment will have its eye on the planned rooftop restaurant and ground-floor dining and drinking facilities. But there’s still more than enough space for a retail tenant.

Ikea is thought to have expressed interest in the Clerys site in the past. Now, with its out-of-town and suburban shop formats being reconceived as distribution centres, the timing is perfect for a smaller Ikea outlet to bring some cheap-and-cheerful colour to O’Connell Street, a thoroughfare much in need of better shopping footfall.

The street wouldn’t necessarily be clogged up with Ikea-ites hauling 6ft-long cardboard boxes back to the car park, nor will Clerys be turned into a warehouse. Ikea’s grand plan is to use city-centre sites as showrooms for products that are then home-delivered.

To keep the tills ringing, it could also make room for its “market hall” destination of smaller items. Clerys, once a place where Dublin shoppers could buy dinnerware, towels, rugs and lamps, could become so again under the Ikea name. It might just have to leave the meatballs behind, though.

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