Ikea is to hugely ramp up its presence in the “global retail mecca” of London through a £1 billion investment blitz over the next three years.
The pledge came on the day of the first opening of a small format Ikea store in the UK on King Street in Hammersmith.
It will be followed by a second smaller outlet on Oxford Circus in Autumn 2023.
Ikea’s UK boss Peter Jelkeby said the investment would come through a mix of new openings, investment in existing full size “blue box” superstores and a distribution centre in Dartford opening in December that will allow 24 hour deliveries.
There are also plans for a network of “click and collect” storage lockers at 20 sites around London and a new remote planning service for customers who want to be involved in the design of new kitchens or bathrooms from home. This will create 50 new jobs.
Mr Jelkeby said closures on London’s high streets before and during the pandemic gave the furniture giant the opportunity to find new sites for smaller stores serving local communities.
He described the capital as “one of the most innovative and exciting markets in the world for retail and e-commerce” and a “retail mecca globally.”
The focus is likely to be more on inner than outer London, which is already served by its giant outposts at Wembley, Croydon, Edmonton, Greenwich and Lakeside mall in Essex.
The new store in Hammersmith – the first Ikea opening in Britain since Greenwich in 2019 – is about a quarter of the size of a traditional store.
It will stock about 1,800 lines – mainly smaller items such as home furnishing accessories – to buy and take away. Another 4,000 bigger items such as the famous Billy bookcase range are on display only and have to be ordered.
The full range of 11,000 items is available for delivery.
After Thursday’s 10am launch the store will be open from 9am to 9pm, although a Swedish deli will open one hour earlier to serve commuters.
It will be Ikea first cashless outlet and have only self-serve checkouts. Hammersmith was chosen in part because of its excellent transport links with four tube lines and 68 bus routes,
The opening of the Swedish furniture store marks the start of a major overhaul of one of London’s least loved shopping centres, which was originally built in the late Seventies but has been eclipsed by the nearby Westfield London supermall in White City.
It was bought by Ikea’s sister company Ingka Centres in 2019 for £170 million and has been renamed Livat Hammersmith. Livat is Swedish for “lively gathering.”
As well as traditional chain stores the 27,000 sq centre will have space for local start-ups, pop-ups and food outlets run by local entrepreneurs.
Ingka Centres managing director Cindy Andersen said: “Today’s official opening of Livat Hammersmith is an exciting step on our journey in shaping next-generation meeting places that go far beyond shopping. We know that our visitors and the wider community want more spaces in which to meet, shop, live and work, which are fun, human and enable more sustainable living.”.