Ikea rules out new Irish stores as digital grows

Ikea has no plans to open further stores in Ireland, despite strong growth in sales.

Sales in Ireland grew 7.4pc in the company’s last financial year to €181.5m.

Ireland market manager Claudia Marshall said it is focused on investing in its so-called multi-channel approach – ie online sales as well as physical store sales.

“We have no plans to open additional stores in Ireland at present,” she said.

Ikea has recently introduced online shopping here and said that helped to boost Irish revenues.

Ms Marshall said the move to online “has been a great success and has performed strongly in its first 10 months in operation, giving customers all over Ireland the opportunity to shop with Ikea whenever and wherever they want”.

The sales figure covers the year to the end of August last.

The company also said it had been boosted by investment in its two outlets here – the full-sized store in Ballymun and its order and collection point in Carrickmines, South Dublin.

It said price reductions and the hot summer had also helped.

“Ikea’s seasonal sales saw a bumper boost and, as a result, outdoor furniture was the biggest area of growth in Ikea Ireland this year, with a total sales increase of 29pc,” the company said.

The Swedish chain has enjoyed decades of rapid growth as shoppers flocked to its out-of-town warehouses to pick up cheap furniture to assemble at home.

But with the rise of online rivals such as Amazon, alongside signs of waning consumer enthusiasm for DIY home improvements, Ikea is now investing in ecommerce, city-centre showrooms and more home delivery and assembly services.

Barbara Martin Coppola, chief digital officer at Ikea Group, the owner of most Ikea stores, said tests underway ranged from connecting staff with customers via video to artificial intelligence tools to help people furnish their homes.

“It’s fantastic to see human interaction through technology when the consumer might need help or advice on where to place furniture,” she told Reuters last month in an interview at a new Ikea city-centre store in Madrid dedicated to living room furniture.

Ikea, whose stores are owned by 11 different franchisees, opened 19 new outlets last year, taking the total to 422 in more than 50 markets.

The largest franchisee is Ikea Group, with 367 stores.

The brand, which does most of its sales in Europe, opened its first store in India this year and announced plans to enter Latin America, starting with Chile in 2020 followed by Colombia and Peru.

It said last month that it was also looking at entering Mexico, Estonia, Ukraine, Puerto Rico, Oman, Luxembourg, Macau and the Philippines over the coming years.

Additional reporting Reuters

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