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Biggest IKEA in Asia Opens in Beijing

April 13, 2006|From the Associated Press

BEIJING — Thousands of shoppers thronged the opening of IKEA's biggest Asian store Wednesday as the Swedish furniture maker launched a bid to expand its share of China's thriving home improvement market.

The store -- IKEA's biggest after its Stockholm flagship -- is part of a wave of expansion by retailers, both Chinese and foreign, that want to cash in on a boom in homeownership in China.

Traditional Peking opera dancers performed outside the new IKEA store, and crowds were held back by white metal barricades before the opening.

Inside, the scene was low-key, with shoppers strolling down wide aisles and looking at furniture and kitchen wares. It was a striking contrast to opening day in 1999 for IKEA's first Beijing store, when customers jammed the aisles.

"Young people really like this 'do it yourself' style," said Song Wei, a young female shopper.

The store includes 430,000 square feet of showrooms, a 700-seat restaurant, a 1,200-car underground garage and a grocery store that stocks Swedish food.

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