IKEA Exeter – A REVIEW OF THEIR OPENING DAY
Occasionally, you lose sleep over things. Even more occasionally, you do so for a positive reason. Maybe you’re a grown up kid who still looks forward to Christmas. Maybe you are about to go on the holiday of a lifetime, or perhaps get married.
This morning was one of those rare days for me and, as I crawled out of bed at some unearthly hour, I did so with excitement and a sense of tangible anticipation because, finally, after years of planning and months of waiting, I was about to attend the opening ceremony of the new Exeter IKEA store. And it didn’t disappoint!
From the moment that Dan (Grow Marketing CEO) and I arrived, we were treated to some lovely Scandinavian nibbles and an equally pleasant welcome from Nick Earle (the new Store Manager) the his staff team of approximately 400 ‘co-workers’.
As crowds of local customers started to gather in a growing queue outside, a private staff party was happening inside – a chance for new staff to mark the special moment and celebrate the collective achievements that have gone towards making this new store a reality. Staff hugged, held hands and even shed a few tears and the gravity and reality of the moment hit home. This was it. This is what they had been waiting for. It was finally time!
Soon afterwards, outside, there was a ceremonial tree planting, carried out by Nick Earle (Store Manager), Gillian Drakeford (IKEA UK & Ireland Country Manager), Karime Hassan (Exeter City Council CEO and Growth Director), Cllr Peter Edwards (Leader of Exeter City Council) and Lord Mayor of Exeter, Cllr Lesley Robson.
As the opening time of 10:00 drew closer, there was a palpable rise in anticipation levels amongst the staff. After waiting for so long, you could tell they were itching to show off their hard work to the members of the public gathering in queues outside. The brass band was in full swing, Swedish flags were being waved (almost patriotically) and there was a sea of yellow and blue as far as the eye could see. A real feast for the senses.
As children from the local primary school (Trinity CofE Primary in Newcourt) took centre stage, excitement reached fever pitch as a countdown started and one lucky child (along with one of his teachers) cut the ceremonial ribbon, formally marking the opening of the store.
As the first lucky customers came up the escalator, they were welcomed with loud applause and cheers by the IKEA team. The very first customer to arrive, local man Jim Langdon, looked both perplexed and thrilled at being the focal epicentre of this initial energy and hospitality. A moment i’m certain he won’t forget in a long time.
And so, as the crowds started to file in and the staff team slowly went about tackling their first full day of work in the store, it was a pleasure to take a few short moments with Nick Earle to look back over the journey from the conception of the project to the exciting moments that had just passed.
With a look of real pride and joy upon his face, he said:
“Today is the first day of our IKEA Exeter lives. Stage by stage, our team has taken shape, we have become more confident and we have finally arrived at this momentous day. Everyone was ready and ‘up for it’ and it has been a really emotional morning. When people invest their time and energy into something to the extent that our team have with this store, it is a hugely rewarding and emotional experience. I couldn’t be prouder and, although you will say that I have to say this, this really is the most beautiful IKEA store I have been to and the most incredible team within it. Togetherness is one of our core values and to share this experience together is really meaningful. We each bring something unique and valuable to the table and it is only together that we will be able to achieve the things that we dream of doing with this store.”
So, as life at IKEA Exeter started for real, we drove back towards our city centre offices feeling that we had witnessed a small but significant moment of history in our city.
Join me in wishing Nick and his team a very warm welcome to Exeter and I hope that they find the city to be as welcoming and positive as they made us feel today.
Here’s to ‘The Wonderful Everyday’,
Group Editor-in-Chief, Grow Marketing