IKEA looks set to move ahead with plans for a new store in Cork, with Carrigtwohill the likely location.
The Swedish furniture-maker has been in discussions with Cork County Council on a potential location since mid-2016 and well-placed sources have confirmed that they are set to move on an East Cork site.
Sites in Little Island and Carrigtwohill on the N25 and the towns of Fermoy and Mitchelstown have previously been suggested as possible locations for a potential Cork outlet allowing easy access for customers from across Munster.
It is understood that the move could result in the creation of some 500 jobs locally.
Ikea's decision to opt for East Cork comes after years of campaigning locally.
Staff at the company held four meeting with officials from County Hall including the Chief Executive Tim Lucey.
The purpose of the meetings was to discuss potential locations for a Cork outlet with further meetings focusing on zoning and traffic implications.
The adjacent rail line between Cork and Midleton provides access, while the €100 million upgrade of the Dunkettle Interchange at the Jack Lynch tunnel will also serve as a boost.
The news will come as a blow to Cork City Council officials, who were also in contact with Ikea last year suggesting sites in Tivoli and the former CMP plant on the Kinsale Road as possible locations. Access to the Black Ash Park and Ride was promoted as a benefit for the CMP location for customers travelling from outside the city. However, a medical centre is now being planned for the site.
The Irish Examiner reports that negotiations to acquire a site in Carrigtwohill are now well advanced.
The future Cork store will be a full-sized outlet similar to the IKEA stores in Ballymun and Belfast.
Labour TD Sean Sherlock said the news would be a significant boost for the area if confirmed.
“Many people travel to Dublin to shop at this landmark store so it would be a big boost to the east Cork area.
“It would be important to ensure the infrastructure is put in place to manage traffic flows in and out of any site.”
“The jobs boost to the area would also be significant.
“Carrigtwohill is synonymous with high-tech, high-end job roles, so something of this nature would also provide a retail job boost.”
Despite increased speculation in recent days that IKEA was progressing plans for a Cork store, a spokesperson for IKEA said they had no update to announce.
"We are always looking for new opportunities in Ireland. We certainly have a growth agenda in Ireland but in terms of new stores, we’ve nothing to confirm at this time," the spokesperson told the Evening Echo.