Ikea opens first India store, expects 7 million visitors per year

To satisfy the Indian penchant for ready-made furniture IKEA has set up a 150 member task force to help customers assemble furniture and is also partnering with UrbanClap

Want a discount on an IKEA couch? Take a trip to India.

Ikea's boss promised Wednesday to meet the "needs, frustrations and dreams" of local consumers with the Swedish firm's first Indian store, its second attempt to break into a vast but hard market. Ikea, whose founder Ingvar Kamprad died in January, is present in 49 countries. But its previous attempt in 2006 at reaching India's burgeoning middle class fell foul of local regulations.

Employees of IKEA greet customers during the inauguration of the company's first store in Hyderabad on Thursday, August 9, 2018.

Concerned that the absence of a strong do-it-yourself culture in India could impede acceptance of Ikea's traditional model of self-assembling furniture, Ikea partnered with local start-up, UrbanClap, and hired 150 staff to offer paid delivery and assembly options, and plans to introduce an online store in conjunction with the opening of its Mumbai outlet in 2019. Hindustan Times delivers the news across all social media platforms, on the web, and at your doorstep. We have two ranges.

After all, IKEA has waited for more than six years to open its first store in India, and not without reason.

IKEA officials reportedly visited over 1000 homes of various sizes belonging to different income groups to understand the needs and aspirations of Indians.

It will offer 7,500 affordable, value for money home furnishing products and 1,000 products will be priced below Rs 200. They've designed 2000 products to suit Indian needs.

Devangshu Dutta, Chief Executive at Third Eyesight, a retail and consumer business consulting company, said: "Ikea has always planned its stores to be a day-long destination event for families". The company is bringing its classic IKEA range along with a small percentage of locally relevant products for the Indian market like masala boxes, pressure cookers, tawas, idli makers, colourful sheets and mattresses made with coconut fibre centre. The company has also expressed desire to invest Rs 4,000 crore in Maharashtra over the next 2-3 years.

But analysts warn that profits won't come quickly or easily.

"Our main priority is to create an inspiring and safe experience for both customers and co-workers", said Peter Betzel, CEO of IKEA Retail India, in a statement.

Locals in Hyderabad meanwhile were sceptical. "Ikea certainly stands more for DIY, and that's something that is interesting for me". They have got some good items.

But Mohammad Noor, a city businessman, told AFP that while he would "watch and wait", he thinks Indian products are better quality.

The products displayed in concept room are not for pickup but the customers can note down the details to purchase them in the market hall. "We've been looking for a sofa, outside they cost 15,000 or 16,000 rupees ($233), but in here I saw one for only 11,000 ($160)".

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