IKEA delays Oxford Street store opening, citing green retrofit

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LONDON (Reuters) - Swedish furniture giant IKEA has delayed the opening of its store on Oxford Street in central London, saying it is taking longer than expected to make the building more energy-efficient by installing heat pumps and double glazing.

Ingka Investments, which owns the store, said it is expected to open by autumn 2024, having initially predicted an opening by the end of this year on the iconic shopping street.

Retrofitting draughty Victorian houses and buildings to make them more energy-efficient is a challenge for Britain as it seeks to curb carbon emissions, and the government has rolled out subsidies to homeowners and businesses to help absorb the cost.

"When refurbishing this over 100-year-old historic landmark, it's important for us as an investor to treat the building with care and to preserve its characteristics and atmosphere," said Peter van der Poel, managing director at Ingka Investments.

"At the same time, we want to upgrade it to today's standards," he added.

Ingka said the building will be powered by renewable energy, and it is removing gas-fired boilers and replacing them with air-source heat pumps.

IKEA, known for its huge warehouse stores in suburban locations, has in recent years changed its strategy and has opened several smaller city-centre shops.

It opened a store in downtown San Francisco on Wednesday, a week after opening in central Copenhagen. Oxford Street will be IKEA's second location in central London after its Hammersmith store which opened in 2022.

The IKEA store will span the ground floor and two basement floors of the building at 214 Oxford Street, previously the site of TopShop's flagship store. The four top floors will be dedicated to office space, IKEA UK said in a press release.

(Reporting by Helen Reid in London and Marie Mannes in Stockholm; editing by Jonathan Oatis)