Swedish furniture chain Ikea is set to open its fifth Israeli branch, this one in Beit Shemesh, a report on the MyNet news site said. The Beit Shemesh branch will be opened not in the city itself, but on a site near the Shimshon Junction north of the city.
The fifth branch of the popular chain had been set to be built in Yerushalayim, with a site set aside in the Malha area for the new store. Sources in the municipality quoted by the news site said that while the Israeli licensees for Ikea were very interested in opening a branch in Yerushalayim, permits to go ahead with construction had been held up by various bureaucrats. The licensees were frustrated, the sources said, and decided to try their luck elsewhere – with Beit Shemesh a willing substitute.
The municipality had made efforts to convince Ikea to locate within Beit Shemesh proper, but no suitable site could be found – and instead the chain chose a site close to the city, but outside its municipal boundaries. As a result, the city will lose out on property taxes that it hoped to collect, the report said.
Ikea only recently opened its fourth Israeli branch, in the southern city of Be’er Sheva. Ikea Beit Shemesh will join that branch, as well as the company’s stores in Haifa, Netanya and Rishon LeTzion, as part of the national chain of the international furniture marketer, with the Be’er Sheva store to be the biggest in Israel. Like its sister facilities, the new branch is expected to offer completely separate mehadrin meat and dairy restaurants, as well as areas for children to play or be entertained while their parents shop.