Swedish retail giant Ikea plans to expand into Oman

Furniture retailer reveals Oman is part of its next phase of expansion around the world, follows Bahrain opening in September
Swedish retail giant Ikea plans to expand into Oman
Ikea plans to expand into Oman as part of plans to enter about a dozen new markets in the coming years.
By Sam Bridge
Wed 10 Oct 2018 02:10 PM

Ikea plans to expand into Oman as part of plans to enter about a dozen new markets in the coming years, as the Swedish furniture giant aims to reach a total of 3 billion potential customers by 2025.

The company will open stores in Chile, Columbia and Peru through a new Ikea franchisee called Falabella as part of its first foray into South America, Inter Ikea said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

Inter Ikea, which owns the Ikea concept and is the worldwide franchisor, also said the company plans to start selling its products in Oman, Mexico, Estonia, Ukraine, Puerto Rico, Luxembourg, Macau and the Philippines.

No further details were given about the Oman store but it would follow the launch of a Bahrain outlet last month.

"By 2025, we have the potential to reach and interact with 3 billion people," Inter Ikea CEO Torbjorn Loof said in the statement. "We will offer new and different ways to shop the Ikea product range - online, in remote locations and in city centers. We will introduce smaller store formats and offer a wide range of flexible and affordable services."

Ikea is in the midst of a transformation where it’s shifting resources toward emerging markets and alternative shopping experiences such as e-commerce and city center stores to better cater to customers’ changing needs. The new expansion plans were laid out as Inter Ikea reported a 4.5 percent increase in retail sales in the 12 months through August, adjusted for currency impact, at the franchisees that operate its more than 400 stores across the world.

Total retail sales, which include sales of both products and services, rose to 38.8 billion euros ($44.7 billion) from 38.3 billion euros a year earlier. In its last fiscal year, India and Latvia became new Ikea markets as the company opened 19 new stores around the world.

In its fiscal year 2019, which runs through August, a total of 15 retail locations are planned. That includes a new store that was opened in Bahrain in September, Inter Ikea said.

Ikea’s stores, which can be found in more than 50 markets, welcomed 957 million visitors in the last fiscal year. The company now has online stores in 35 markets after its operations in Belgium, Romania and Malaysia introduced e-commerce. The company is also exploring selling its products on external online marketplaces and Loof said he hopes to introduce a collaboration with a digital shopping platform in the coming year.

Ikea’s foray into South America will see the company open nine stores and expand online in Chile, Colombia and Peru, through the Falabella franchise, in the coming decade.

"We’re very excited to open in South America," Loof said in a phone interview. "It will be a faster and bigger expansion than when we’ve entered new markets before."

The retailer will need at least 1 million cubic meters of store space in South America to break even, Loof said. Its first store is planned to open in Santiago in Chile in late 2020 and locations in Lima in Peru and Bogota in Columbia will then likely follow, he said.

Ikea’s transformation means franchisees like Falabella have a menu of options to choose from to jump start their expansion, including physical store formats and digital services. That means new Ikea franchisees should be able to "reach bigger volume faster with lower costs," Loof said.

* With Bloomberg

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