Ikea boss takes female business award

Jeanette Söderberg, the new head of Ikea in Sweden, was named on Wednesday as this year's 'Ruter Dam' - an annual award for the woman considered to have achieved the highest position in the Swedish business world.

The award is designed to promote the role of women in senior corporate positions.

“It feels great – it’s important with a good mix of women and men in leadership positions,” said said Söderberg at a press conference on Wednesday.

Söderberg, who has only been running Ikea in Sweden for a month, was competing for the honour with Annika Falkengren, the new managing director of SEB, and Carina Håkansson, managing director of Stora Enso Skog and last year’s winner.

But despite the fact that the issue of female representation in companies is in the spotlight, there are even fewer women in positions of operational management than on company boards.

Only one in ten managers in Sweden’s listed companies is female and the number of female managing directors is even fewer.

Jeanette Söderberg emphasised the importance of considering the business benefits of dividing up the top jobs.

“Differences in themselves are a great force for change and regeneration,” she said.

“We want to reflect the many different people who are our customers – but we are not as far forward as we would like to be yet.”

Söderberg, who is 40, has taken the long route to the top. She began working at the checkout in Stockholm’s Kungens Kurva store in 1983.

“It was just chance that I ended up there – but no coincidence that I stayed,” she said.

Candidates for the award, which is organised by the Ruter Dam female management development foundation, are chosen from Swedish companies with an annual turnover of more than 3 billion kronor.

Ikea’s annual sales last year amounted to 9.1 billion kronor and the company employs around 4,800 people in Sweden.

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TT/The Local


Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price

In the run-up to what would in normal times be the festive season sales rush, Ikea has vowed to buy back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price
Got any pieces of Ikea furniture at home? You may be able to get rid of it and get money back. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Ikea, the world's largest furniture chain, said Tuesday it would begin buying back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

The “Buy Back Friday” scheme, timed to coincide with the “Black Friday” pre-Christmas retail frenzy, will run from November 24th and until December 3rd in 27 countries.

“Rather than buy things you don't need this Black Friday, we want to help customers give their furniture a second life instead of making an impulse buy,” said Stefan Vanoverbeke, deputy retail operations manager at Ingka Group, Ikea's parent company.

To address concerns its affordable, flat-pack products encourage overconsumption and waste, the Swedish company had previously said it would start renting and recycling furniture as part of an eco-drive.

Under its buyback scheme, the group said that “anything that can't be resold will be recycled or donated to community projects to help those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Some countries like Australia and Canada for example are currently testing different buyback services, but BuyBack Friday will be the first time that 27 countries do this together,” the statement added.

The Swedish giant employs over 217,000 people and has more than 50 outlets. Its annual turnover is around 40 billion euros ($46 billion).

The group did not specify how it would determine the price paid for second-hand furniture and customers will receive a voucher, not cash, for their products.  

As part of efforts to reduce waste, Ikea has already begun repairing and re-packaging products in every store that have been damaged in transit, as well as allowing customers to return products – including furniture – for resale or donation to charities.