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We feel right at home in flatpack heaven; In the decade since Ikea's first Welsh store opened, 20 million customers have walked through its doors and 250,000 Bumerang hanger sets have been sold. As the Swedish success story today marks its 10th anniversary in Cardiff, Cathy Owen caught up with 10 workers who have been there right from the start...

EMMA CLIFFORD, 32, from Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff, is an interior designer and visual merchandiser Q: What have been the highlights of your job? A: "Getting to travel to other countries and other stores around this country. I have been to work in stores in Norway, Gateshead, Birmingham, Bristol and London."

Q: What is the strangest request you have ever had? A: "I have done a few things over the years that might be seen as a bit strange, for example hanging loads of Tupperware from the ceiling or cable tying children's toys to a Christmas tree."

Q: What is your favourite product? A: "I love the Pax wardrobe system as they are so flexible, you can create a storage solution that really suits your own storage needs. I have used them in my house to organise my clothes and shoes to make it easier for me to find things."

STEVE BARNES, 58, from Penarth, the store manager, has been working with the company for more than 20 years Q: How did you get the job? A: "I first started working for IKEA in March 1978 and I was living in China and working for the company there when I was asked to manage the Wales store in Cardiff."

Q: What have been the highlights of your job? A: "The people. Both the people here in the store, but also the people of Wales. They remind me of my fellow Canadians, friendly and hardworking."

Q: What is the strangest request you have ever had? A: "I was once asked by someone if they could take a nap in one of our showroom beds for a few hours. My answer was that they were welcome to try out the bed if they were planning to buy it!" Q: Your favourite product? A: "The Poang easy chair. It is very comfortable, a classic design and been in our range for a very long time, like me.

The best sellers in the Wales store are the tea-lights and white paper napkins in the Markethall and the Billy bookcases and Expedit storage units."

TOM GRIBBEN, 53, from Barry, is a supply specialist in the store working with suppliers on stock availability Q: What have been the highlights of your job? A: "I would have to say it was the chance to meet Ingvar Kamprad, the IKEA founder who visited the store in 2009."

Q: What is your favourite product? A: "I have loads in my home, but my favourite has got to be my Poang chair with footstool. Nice to relax in after a hard day's work."

LUCY EVANS, 27, from Fairwater, Cardiff, started as a cashier on the checkouts and is now Cookshop Manager Q: What has been the highlight of your job? A: "The highlight of being at IKEA has been being promoted to manager. I'm very fortunate I started as a coworker, got promoted to supervisor, moved to sales and got promoted to deputy manager then eventually worked my way to department manager, I've now been in my current role for four years."

Q: What is your favourite product? A: "It would have to be the Spritta Apple slicer, because it is such a great gadget! The best-seller in my department is the Pokal glass."

JOANNE RIMRON, 37, from Pontypridd, is a customer services team leader Q: What is the strangest request you have ever had? A: "A customer asking to buy one of our IKEA uniform T-shirts."

Q: What is your favourite product? A: "The IKEA kitchens, and that's all of them!" GARY MORRIS, 36, from Crosskeys, Newport, is a the self serve warehouse manager Q: What is the strangest request you have ever had? A: "A customer in cycling gear once asked me if I thought he could transport a wardrobe home on his bicycle! I thought he was joking so I laughed, he then looked at me with a stern glare and said, 'Well it has got a trailer.'" Q: What is your favourite product? A: "Pax wardrobes. Simple but incredibly flexible."

LINDA RICHARDS, from Dinas Powys, is a living rooms advanced co-worker Q: What is your favourite product? A: "The Strandmon armchair which is an updated version of Ingvar's Kamprad chair from the 1951 catalogue."

Q: Why is it a good place to work? A: "It is an ever changing environment and the natives are friendly."

JEFF BALDREY, 42, from Heath, Cardiff, is a customer relations manager Q: What is the strangest request you have ever had? A: "Supplying our classic large blue bags to a swan sanctuary as a donation to help move the swans for treatment."

STEPHANIE REYNOLDS, from Cardiff, has worked in the Safety & Security department for the past eight years Q: What is the strangest request you have ever had? A: "I often get asked how to get into the store a lot!" Q: What is your favourite product? A: "The Poang chairs because they are so comfortable."

Q: Why is it a good place to work? A: "It is a very family friendly and have supported me over the years with issues that have happened in my personal life. The people are lovely and you can develop at your own pace and we have fab Christmas presents and parties."

ALUN FOWLER, 26, from Caerphilly, is a senior co-worker in the restaurant Q: What have been the highlights of your job? A: "Developing myself within the store and learning new things every day."

Q: What is your favourite product? A: "The biggest seller is meatballs, but my particular favourite product is the Poang chair."

I was once asked by someone if they could take a nap in a showroom bed. My answer was that they were welcome to try out the bed if they were planning to buy it!

CAPTION(S):

Steph Reynolds, Safety and Security Advance Co-Worker, celebrates at Ikea

Ikea staff who have been at its Cardiff store since the opening in 2003 Front, from left: Jo Rimron, Linda Richards, Lucy Evans, Emma Clifford; Back, from left, Tom Gribben, Alun Fowler, Steph Reynolds, Gary Morris, Steve Barnes, Jeff Baldrey
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 6, 2013
Words:1017
Previous Article:MORNING SERIAL.
Next Article:Corrections & clarifications; Westermail Mail.
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