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NAZI

Ikea rejects East German prison labour claims

Swedish furniture giant Ikea has rejected claims in a new Swedish television documentary that there is evidence that East German political prisoners were used in its factories in the 1970s and 1980s.

Ikea rejects East German prison labour claims

The claims which will be aired in Sveriges Television’s (SVT) Uppdrag Granskning programme on Wednesday first emerged in a German television documentary aired in July 2011.

SVT has claimed that its reporter has found evidence in the Stasi archives that indicates that Ikea made used of prisoner labour.

The firm issued a statement on Friday, explaining that it had investigated the claims following the Germany documentary and found no evidence to support them.

“After the German documentary, Ikea examined the issue to get a more complete picture of what happened. We have so far found no evidence to suggest that political prisoners were used in production,” the firm wrote.

Ikea claimed in its statement that it takes the issue seriously and stated that regular inspections were made of the firm’s factories in the DDR.

“We were clear in our demands then as we are now,” the firm stated.

During the 1970s, Ikea developed a strong manufacturing presence in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), establishing operations in 65 locations across the country to produce parts and furniture.

The 2011 documentary by German public broadcaster WDR detailed claims, citing Stasi documents, that Ikea had a thorough cooperation with the East German authorities.

The programme illustrated the example of one factory, where Ikea’s popular Klippan sofa was produced, and which was located beside a prison in Waldheim.

A former prison chief told WDR that prison labour was an expected part of furniture production.

SVT’s Uppdrag Granskning will be broadcast on Wednesday and will include an interview with Ikea’s Jeanette Skjelmose.

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IKEA

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.

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