Shopping Centers Today International

JAN 2016

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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Ikea I kea, the Swedish-based concept- driven furnisher with the stadium- sized stores, has remained steadfastly true to its brand throughout the plant- ing of its yellow-and-blue flag in 47 countries since its 1940s founding in the small town of Småland. The retailer, which sells only Ikea- branded furnishings, to exercise full control over manufacturing and distribu- tion, is known for its deliberate approach to opening stores. In the U.S., where Ikea opened its first store in 1985, in Phila- delphia, the chain has grown slowly to 42 stores over 30 years and become the country's second-largest furnisher in the process, behind Ashley Furniture. A prime Ikea imperative is to under- stand how people live their lives before opening a store around them, says com- pany spokeswoman Mona Astra Liss. "We do home studies in many countries," she said. "This helps us to understand wants, needs and desires." Before expanding into China, the company studied 8,300 people in eight cities to identify daily routines, such as how quickly they get out the door each morning, all with the goal of formu- lating behavior-specific products. One off- shoot was a self-standing mirror equipped with hooks for clothing and jewelry that better allows women to quickly pick out their ensembles the night before. "While the products are the same, how they are adapted to their home-living situation can change," Liss said. To contain prices in China, Ikea built numerous local factories and boosted materials-sourcing locally. It took Ikea nearly six years to un- derstand the South Korean market and to position such products as kimchi re- frigerators and metal chopsticks, which are preferred over wooden, in stores. Ikea launched its first store there, a 624,000-square-foot goliath in Gwang- myeong, in December 2014. No stranger to unconventional and untapped markets, Ikea has opened in Bulgaria, Cypress, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey, and has plans for stores in Brazil, Estonia, India, Latvia, Serbia and Ukraine over the next four years. Some- times there are hitches: A store opening in Morocco, near Casablanca, late last year was blocked by the government over a diplomatic spat. The company is also building in Las Vegas but declines to disclose any target number for new U.S. stores, although the company's president, Lars Peters- son, did say recently that U.S. plans "are quite ambitious." 34 S C T / J a n u a r y 2 0 1 6 P h o t o : A s A h i s h i m b u n v i A G e t t y

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