IKEA targets French expansion, eyes central Paris
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS (Reuters) - IKEA, the world’s biggest furniture retailer, will invest 600 million euros ($760 million) in France by 2017 to open seven new stores and renovate two of its existing outlets, the company said on Tuesday, creating 1,300 jobs and providing some cheer for a struggling economy.
The Swedish group, known for its low-priced but distinctive furniture and sprawling out-of-town stores, is also considering opening a shop in central Paris and setting up pick-up points for the collection of goods ordered online to respond to changing shopping habits.
"We are starting to review the feasibility of opening a store inside Paris. The project is really at an early stage as we ponder logistics and store size," IKEA's chief executive for France, Stefan Vanoverbeke, told a news conference.
In June IKEA said it was opening a pilot store in the northern German port city of Hamburg in a central pedestrian shopping zone.
Shopping at out-of-town stores has been hurt worldwide by high fuel prices and a trend, first seen in the grocery industry, toward consumers making smaller, more frequent purchases closer to home due to tight household budgets.
IKEA's announcement comes as the French Socialist government struggles to tackle high unemployment and weak consumer spending in the face of feeble economic growth.
FRENCH EXPANSION Continued...