Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

India's first IKEA store brings traffic to a standstill on opening day

India's first IKEA store brings traffic to a standstill on opening day

What started as a trickle of shoppers at 10 a.m., when the store opened, had turned into a steady stream about an hour later. The crowds resembled queue lines in Tirumala or queue lines at ticket counters of first day of a super-star movie.

Opened with a military band, the store in the southern city of Hyderabad is the first of 25 outlets the Swedish furniture giant hopes to open by 2025 across the country of 1.25 billion people. But back in 2013, when IKEA was scouting for a suitable place to set up its first store, Hyderabad didn't even figure on its list.

Patrick Antoni, Deputy CEO, IKEA India, had said on Wednesday that they are expecting an average daily footfall of 30,000 to 35,000.

IKEA store was formally opened to public in the presence of KT Rama Rao, Telangana Industries and IT Minister, along with Sweden Ambassador Klas Molin, Jesper Brodin, CEO, IKEA Group and Peter Betzel, CEO, IKEA India. The opening of its first store here was scheduled for July 19 this year but the company again pushed it back by nearly 20 days to August 9, citing quality commitments.

Located in the heart of HITEC City, the information technology hub, and close to the posh localities, the store appears to be created to target upper middle-class and the rich.

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Indian shoppers aren't used to assembling their furniture themselves, so Ikea is offering to deliver items and install them at people's homes, if they live nearby enough. However, Ikea claims it is for everyone, irrespective of size of their wallet.

400,000 sq ft floor area, 7,500 products, including 1,000 priced below Rs 200. "We found love for homes is very big in India". It developed products for local needs including masala boxes, pressure cookers, tawas, idli makers, colourful sheets and mattresses made with coconut fibre centre.

"Ikea has an opportunity to pioneer modern retailing in the home improvement sector", said Ankur Bisen, head of retail and consumer division at Technopak Advisors Pvt., an Indian consulting firm based near New Delhi. Bracy said the Live Oak store will feature $1 and $2 breakfasts.

To try and ensure it recoups its $1.5-billion investment, the Swedish company has tweaked its offerings to suit Indian tastes, starting with the restaurant, where "Smaklig Maltid - "Enjoy your Meal" in Swedish" is written on the wall.

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