FURNITURE fans, start your shopping trolleys - retail giant IKEA has quietly announced plans to open a planning store in the Hunter.
The European furniture company announced on its website last month it would open new customer meeting points in Australia called "planning studios" this year.
The first IKEA Planning Studio will open in Northwest Melbourne before the end of the year, with an additional location looking to be secured in Newcastle, the website said.
A planning studio, sized between just 300 and 500 square metres, is a place where customers can plan and order complex home furnishing products and services such as kitchens, wardrobes and console units.
The studios will have a collection point close by where customers can collect their products.
But there will be no immediate items or food on site and IKEA says the main focus will be in "assisting customers to create their dream home furnishing solutions".
It is unclear where the store would be located, with both Newcastle and Lake Macquarie councils unaware of the company's planned site.
However Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser said it was "positive for the region" as the council had pushed for the Lower Hunter to remain on the company's radar is it went through changes to its business model.
An IKEA spokesperson declined to comment when Australian Community Media previously asked if the company would consider a rare available Kotara site for a new store.
However the Newcastle Herald reported last year that the company was later understood to have pulled its plans for a store at the site.
IKEA Australia chief executive officer Mirja Viinanen said their aim with the planning studios was to reach more people.
"The goal for our expansion is simple: we will be where the many people are, offering more people the ability to choose when, where, and how they want to engage with IKEA," she said.
"We will continue to transform and test new formats like the new planning studios to be able to meet our customers where it is convenient for them, and we are constantly researching where this need is the greatest to inform our expansion strategy."
IKEA says the two studios "will gather important customer insights and feedback during the initial months of opening".
Based on their success, the company will consider opening more studios next year - initially in Melbourne with potential for more across the rest of the country.
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