IKEA has confirmed it will shut its first large UK store.

The Swedish retail chain confirmed it will shut its Coventry store after first arriving in the country 33 years ago.

The company said it will close the doors of its £35 million Coventry branch, which opened at Christmas in 2007, with 352 workers expected to lose their jobs.

The Swedish furniture and home improvement giant added the site in the city centre was too expensive to keep operating and had lost customers to retail parks and online shopping.

In a statement, Ikea said: "The store was built over seven levels, which resulted in a significant impact on the operating costs of the store and the shopping experience for customers.

"In addition, the changing behaviour of customers in the area who prefer to shop in retail parks and online has resulted in visitor numbers being substantially lower than expected and continuing to decrease over time.

"These factors have led to the store making consistent losses."

The company said it tried a number of initiatives to keep the store open but "these have not resolved the fundamental challenges connected to the location and the format of the store".

The European multinational has 433 stores worldwide, with 18 in the UK, and employs around 21,000 people.

It has sites in Warrington and Ashton-under-Lyne.

What ever happened to the Lancashire IKEA proposal?

Excitement and prosperity struck Lancashire when plans to open a IKEA store near Chorley came to light towards the end of the last decade.

In December 2017 it was announced the first phase of construction would start on the store in 2018, with the scheme creating nearly 7,500 jobs from the start of the building process to employment at the new development.

The builders came rolling in back in April 2018 to start at the 160-acre site. IKEA was going to be part of a new retail and leisure complex to the area.

Lancashire Telegraph:

It was being delivered through the City Deal and it will provide 80,000 sq ft of industrial space, 26,000 sq ft of office space, 4,500 permanent new jobs, 2,900 jobs during construction and up to 210 homes, with IKEA already committed as an anchor tenant at this point.

However a month later the retail giant pulled out of a proposed flagship store.

The company announced the site was no longer viable, despite already spending money on groundworks.

What does the future hold?

Lancashire Telegraph:

The site holds a different future now, with Lancashire County Council announcing in April 2019, after nearly a year of speculation about who might replace the Swedish giant, that the project was heading towards a logistics and distribution hub.

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It has the potential to add £200m of gross value to the Lancashire economy each year, the county council said.

It is estimated that 3,000 jobs will be created on the site – 1,500 fewer than when it was planned to be a retail-led development.

But County Hall insists that the jobs now expected to come to the area will be of “higher value”.