“MALAGA is set to explode with jobs,” believes the city’s Ikea manager Linus Frejd.
Describing the area as a ‘new silicon valley’ he continues: “Something is definitely cooking and all the ingredients are here for the pot to start boiling.”
In particular he cites the excellent infrastructure, but also the fast-growing university and explains how Forbes and Bloomberg have recently listed Malaga as among the top cities in the world to relocate for work.
“The interest has sky-rocketed and it is not just for the weather that so many companies are relocating here,” he tells the Olive Press during a behind-the-scenes tour of the Swedish giant’s nerve centre, near Malaga airport.
“We have a unique situation and can become one of the hotspots in Europe. Compared to the big global cities where there is a war for talent and you can’t recruit unless you pay ten times over salary. Here we have as much as 47% youth unemployment so there is a big labour pool. And good, skilled young talent too.”
So impressed is he with the way the town hall is handling the development that he sees thousands of new jobs being created in the tech and research sector over the next few years… and ‘not just in the city, all the way up the coast to Marbella and Estepona’.
His company – now celebrating its 15th year in the city – is also taking a direct role in nurturing the expansion through its membership of a new initiative called ‘the Talent Lab’.
“We are one of the main collaborators and are taking 50 local students to help them discover themselves,” he explains proudly, adding that his management team will be helping them develop their talents and discover leadership and branding.
“Ultimately we are helping them build their employability… ready to take jobs in the new companies relocating here. There will be hundreds of them in a few years,” insists the father-of-two, 38, from Sweden.
They will certainly enjoy spending time at the iconic furniture giant that is now rolling out micro-stores up along the Costa del Sol, including click and collect and plan and order points at La Canada and Granada’s Nevada centre. “We are also looking at Ronda, Estepona, Nerja and Jaen,” he adds.
A hive of activity, with up to 600 staff, ranging from designers to accountants and technical staff, the Malaga store is one of the busiest in Spain expecting to turn over €150 million this year.
It is set to be a big year for the Swedish giant, which is planning ‘a year of celebration’ to celebrate its 15th year serving the local market.
There are 25 stores in Spain and over 450 giant stories globally, although a couple have recently closed in Russia understandably.
“We’ve put all 14 stores in Russia on ice for now but are keeping the staff,” explains Linus, who actually worked in Russia (St. Petersburg) for a couple of years, before joining the ‘expansion team’ in Ukraine.
But his move to Malaga two years ago was his best yet, with his wife Melina getting a job at a smaller furniture company in Mijas and his two boys, 9 and 5, happy at a good local school.
“It was a dream come true and we always wanted to move here. It’s such a beautiful area and great for living and working,” he says.
A well travelled man, who studied interior design at college in Sydney, he insists on wearing the store’s trademark yellow uniform and also helping out in every different department as much as he can in line with Ikea’s dislike of ‘hierarchies’.
“I know my way around a screwdriver,” he jokes. “And I’ve always been interested in marketing, branding and design so I guess I ended up at the perfect job.”
- FOCUS: How Malaga on Spain’s Costa del Sol has become the digital nomad’s dream
- Nomad visa’ and tax breaks: What we know about Spain’s plans to attract remote workers
- Autonomo: What you need to know about being self-employed in Spain