Ikea stops selling alcohol at Swedish restaurants

Global flat-pack furniture giant Ikea is in the midst of clearing out all the alcoholic beverages from shelves in the restaurants at its Swedish stores, after alcohol sales dwindled.

Ikea stops selling alcohol at Swedish restaurants
The alcohol is gradually being phased out. Photo: Bjorn Lindgren/TT

“It’s a gradual phase-out. We stopped stocking up at the same rate at the beginning of this year and will keep on selling until we run out,” Anna Pilkrona Godden, a spokeswoman for Ikea Sweden, confirmed to The Local on Thursday.

“There’s no other reason for it than the fact that there wasn’t a great demand for alcohol and we choose to listen to our customers,” she said, saying that there have been no alcohol-related incidents to prompt the move.

Godden said the decision to get rid of alcohol at its restaurants purely applies to Sweden at this stage.

“This is in no way a global policy. Every (Ikea) country can bring in and sell a certain amount of local products if they want to. I don’t know what the others are doing or not doing.”

Sweden has among the strictest rules in Europe when it comes to drink driving and while Godden did not wish to speculate on whether this had had a direct impact on Ikea's new strategy in Sweden, she confirmed that there is a growing trend towards healthier lifestyles in the Nordics.

The decision to phase out alcoholic drinks comes as the company also launches "a greener and healther line of foods" called "New Food Direction".

Ikea in Sweden has sold alcohol at its restaurants for about a decade.

Pilkrona Godden said the initiative, which is in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations for healthy eating and which is being rolled out at Ikea stores worldwide, includes replacing branded soft drinks in its self-service restaurants with flavoured soda water.

“It’s just half of the sugar compared with soft-drinks.”

“We’re also looking into our portion sizes and to reduce the amount of salt and sugar in the foods,” she said.

Ikea is famous for its food, and particularly its meatballs. When its Norwegian branch this summer changed the way it served the traditional Swedish dish by including vegetables for an extra cost, local health experts went wild, criticising the furniture chain for charging for what was healthy on the plate. 


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.