Ikea to revamp stores as online business grows

The company that controls most Ikea branches is repurposing its stores to adapt to soaring online business.

Ikea to revamp stores as online business grows
Photo: Lise Åserud/NTB/TT/Scanpix

Ingka Group said on Monday it was investing three billion euros ($3.2 billion) by the end of 2023 to open new shops and modernise existing ones.

“The investment will allow us to renovate and repurpose already existing stores”, Tolga Öncü, retail operations manager at Ingka Group, which manages over 400 of Ikea’s 500 or so stores worldwide, told AFP.

As more and more businesses focus on online shopping, the company noted in a statement that “our stores remain one of our biggest strengths”.
But Öncü also stressed that physical stores were being revamped to support online purchases.

He cited the example of a branch in Kuopio, Finland, which has been upgraded to support shipping online orders.

The expenditure of three billion euros by the end of next year marks a step up for Ingka, which invested 2.1 billion euros in its new and existing shops between 2019 and 2021.

Major investments of almost 1.2 billion euros are planned in London, and Ingka will also continue investing in markets which are considered mature, such as Spain and Germany.

Founded and headquartered in Sweden, Ikea is owned by a complex structure of companies and foundations based mainly in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Traditionally, massive Ikea stores have been placed in suburbs or on the outskirts of towns, but the furniture giant started a change in strategy by opening its first city centre shop in Hamburg in 2014, and a new model with a smaller offering in Paris in 2019.

It is also planning to open new stores in or near city centres, notably in Nice this week and in Stockholm this summer.

The pioneer of flat-pack furniture to be assembled at home was founded by Ingvar Kamprad in 1943, and has grown into a multinational giant present in some thirty countries.

At the beginning of March, Ikea announced the suspension of its major activities in Russia and Belarus following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The move affected nearly 15,000 employees, 17 stores and three production sites as well as 47 suppliers in Russia and 10 in Belarus. “Our business will remain paused until further notice,” Öncü told AFP.

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SAS pilot unions delay strike for three days of extra talks

Sweden’s pilot union has agreed to postpone the strike planned for Wednesday by three days in the hope of striking a last minute deal with the SAS airline.

SAS pilot unions delay strike for three days of extra talks

The strike, due to start on June 29th, has been pushed forward until just after midnight on July 1st, to provide time for extra negotiations with the Scandinavian airline’s management over a new collective bargaining agreement. 

After weeks with intensive negotiations over a new agreement between SAS leadership and 1,000 of the airline’s pilots, both sides are now willing to continue discussions, pushing back the deadline by three days. 

“SAS and the Norwegian pilot union are in agreement that we will continue negotiations for three days,” Norwegian national mediator Mats Wilhelm Ruland said. “There’s been intensive work towards finding a solution.”

Karin Nyman, Swedish press officer for SAS, said that the company was glad to have been given more time.

“It means above everything else that our customers will be able to travel over the next few days,” she told Swedish newswire TT.

Martin Lindgren, chairman of the Swedish SAS branch of the Swedish Air Line Pilots Association (SPF), would not comment on the content of the negotiations, but said that it was worth continuing to try and reach an agreement.

“We feel a great responsibility towards both SAS and our members, but above all towards our passengers,” he said in a press statement.

“Although we have gone to great lengths to come to an agreement, many issues remain unsolved. The strike can only be avoided if SAS show a real will to meet us. As of now, we’re choosing to give the other side yet another chance to do that.”

The airline’s Danish press officer, Alexandra Kaoukji, wrote in a statement to Danish newswire Ritzau that mediators believe “there is a possibility of reaching consensus” on a new agreement between the airline and pilots.

“The new 72-hour deadline means that our passengers will be able to travel,” she told the newswire. “We’re very happy about that. Our hope is therefore that we can find a solution and that passengers will not be affected.”

Nyman was also hopeful that both sides would be able to come to an agreement without resorting to strike action.

“We can only state that we’ve had constructive talks in recent days in our negotiations, and obviously the mediators have then made the assessment that there is a chance of reaching an agreement,” she said.

Pilots are unhappy that SAS is hiring new pilots on cheaper contracts in their two subsidiaries, SAS Link and SAS Connect. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement, up to 30,000 SAS passengers could be affected per day, the airline said on June 27th.