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City news, 27.01.2004 14:36

IKEA fights threat of closure

IKEA Kudrovo fights threat of closure The St. Petersburg IKEA outlet is to undergo an environmental audit to stave off closure by the Natural Resources Ministry, the Swedish furniture giant said on Monday.

The store, which opened in December, failed to comply with ecological standards and could be closed as early as Tuesday, the Environmental Audit Chamber said last week.

"The problem has been resolved," said Peter Partma, IKEA's expansion manger for Russia. The ministry could not be reached for comment on Monday. In mid-November, authorities tried to prevent the opening of the store because of a lack of documentation. They finally gave IKEA an extension until Jan. 15, which the retailer failed to meet.

"We were a little bit late with submitting the documents, but this will have no effect on our activities in Russia and our expansion plans," Partma said.

IKEA has hired a firm to conduct an environmental audit to comply with state regulations, Partma added. IKEA's expansion plans include a total of five to six stores in Moscow, one or two more in St. Petersburg, as well as one in each of country's 11 remaining cities with a population of over one million.

Partma stressed that the problem in St. Petersburg was not "environmental," but "administrative." "IKEA has really high environmental standards," he said. "They are probably even more strict than the state ones." "Every developer in Russia is facing this sort of problem," Boris Yushenkov, general director of Colliers International's

St. Petersburg office, said. "These Soviet-era regulations are not flexible enough and they don't meet international standards," Yushenkov added.

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