IKEA's next style revolution: itself

Tue Sep 23, 2014 4:29am EDT
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By Mia Shanley

ALMHULT Sweden (Reuters) - Having redesigned kitchens, bathrooms and sitting rooms around the world, IKEA has decided to redesign itself.

The store that inserted Scandinavian design into millions of households from Beijing to Boston needs to come up with something new to keep its leading position in an industry which is fast being transformed by travel and the Internet.

Says its head of design Marcus Engman: "I think we have to - and we are - rethinking what's Scandinavian for tomorrow."

IKEA's sales boomed in part because it kept costs down by cleverly convincing customers to piece their purchases together themselves. Now it wants to double those sales to 50 billion euros by 2020, expand its current 362 stores by launching in places like India, and boost online revenues.

To do that successfully, it must take into account the fact that its customers are now global citizens with sophisticated tastes, and that it is catering to a far wider audience than when it first launched in 1943. Over the last year IKEA had 775 million store visits across about 50 countries - and 1.2 billion visits to its website.

"Everybody has a bigger view than what they had in the fifties," Engman told Reuters from IKEA's design center in the remote southern Swedish village of Almhult, where he leads a tight team of 20 designers.

"That means we have to change."

In seeking to recreate a new Scandinavian image - IKEA is best known for its minimal designs - the company acknowledges too that the face of Sweden has also changed.   Continued...

IKEA design chief Marcus Engman poses for a picture in Stockholm August 14, 2012. REUTERS/Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency