Spanish jobseekers flood and crash Ikea server

A new Ikea store in Spain prompted so many job applications that the company's internet server crashed, forcing the Swedish furniture behemoth to suspend the hiring process.

Spanish jobseekers flood and crash Ikea server

A flood of 20,000 applications for jobs at a new Ikea store in Spain crashed the company's internet server, forcing it to suspend the hiring process, the Swedish furniture giant said on Wednesday.

The company posted an online questionnaire on Monday for applicants to work at the store, due to open early next year in Alfafar in the eastern region of Valencia where the unemployment rate is over 28 percent. 

"We have received so many applications to work for us in Ikea Valencia Alfafar that our server has collapsed," the company said in a Facebook message.

"We have temporarily closed the process until we find a solution that enables the online form to function correctly," added a spokesman for Ikea in Spain, Rodrigo Sanchez.

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"We have received a total of 20,000 applications in the two days that the form has been available," for a total of 400 jobs in the store, Sanchez told AFP.

He said that was four times more applications in the first two days than during any of Ikea's previous 15 store openings in Spain.    

The largest ever number of applications to work at Ikea in Spain was 50,000 for its store that opened in the southern city of Jerez in 2009 — but those applications were spread over a whole month, he said.

Sanchez said the new branch would create 400 direct jobs in the store and 80 more indirect ones for workers such as security guards and cleaners, and involved an investment of $109 million.

The online application page on Wednesday displayed an apologetic message promising to get in touch with all those who had tried to apply.

"We want to thank all of you for your interest in joining the team at Ikea Valencia Alfafar and apologize for the trouble caused."

Five years of on-off recession sparked by the collapse of a building boom in 2008 have thrown millions of Spaniards out of work. The national unemployment rate is currently close to 26 percent.

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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.