An urban renewal initiative by Ireland’s environment minister Dick Roche could pave the way for Costco’s entry into the Republic.
Roche wants to exempt an economically depressed Dublin suburb, Ballymun, from the 6,000 square metre cap on retail warehousing, so that the Swedish multinational Ikea can open a store there. And sources within the ministry say it is hoped Costco will take advantage of the special circumstances and also build a warehouse outlet there.
Six years ago, the US giant won local approval for a E15m store in an industrial park in west Dublin. But the project was vetoed on appeal, with a ruling that the proposed 11,500 square metre outlet was unsuitable.
Local retailers and their trade body RGDATA had said the scale of the development would adversely affect their businesses.
Given the Republic’s strict planning guidelines, Costco did not try again, but senior sources within the company have told The Grocer in the past it was still keen to enter the Irish market.
Sources close to the Department of the Environment claim that by locating next to Ikea, Costco would be more likely to get a go-ahead for its typical warehouse. The two companies, they say, already trade out of nearby locations in the UK, the US and Canada.
Special legislation to exempt Ikea and Ballymun from the regulations is being drafted, “with Costco kept in mind”, according to the sources.
Minister Roche promised minimum change elsewhere and warned: “We don’t want to see the sort of developments that have sucked the life out of town centres in other countries.”
However, he has come under fire from retail and other groups and government backbenchers opposed to easing the ban.