Oct. 31 - Swedish furniture retailer IKEA is currently celebrating 25 years in the UK - where some of its iconic products like the Billy Bookcase now feature in many homes. The firm has 338 stores in 40 countries, but its flatpack furniture may be appearing in more homes in emerging markets, especially India where it hopes to open 25 stores. Joanna Partridge reports
They brought Scandinavian style to the masses. Sweden's IKEA is celebrating 25 years in Britain. The modern design included products like the Klippan sofa, and the flatpack furniture changed our living rooms. IKEA's first store opened in the Swedish town of Almhult in 1958. The firm's design manager Marcus Engman believes functionality, style and value for money are the keys to their success. He hopes customers will be more involved in the design process in future, possibly by using the website. SOUNDBITE: Marcus Engman, IKEA Design Manager, saying (English): "It's not about 'do it yourself' from having a piece of wood and do a furniture out of it; it's more like getting a sofa but maybe you do adjustments to that sofa, or you could work with the fabric in a way, maybe work with stickers on the fabric so you make it your own but we help them to do it, that's one thing that I could foresee." The furniture retailer now has 338 stores in 40 countries across Europe, North America and Asia. They've also got big expansion plans. They want to grow more in China. And a main target is India - where they already source a lot of their textiles. Following the government's recent retail reforms, they're planning to open 25 stores there. This is an ambitious move, says Patrick O'Brien from Verdict. SOUNDBITE: Patrick O'Brien, Principal analyst, Global retail, Verdict, saying (English): "It's going to take a long time for the project to come through, the first store won't be open for 4 or 5 years yet. But they face other challenges as well, there are some very tough rules being put in by the government as to how Ikea will be allowed to operate. For example, I think around 30 percent of sourcing has to be done from small, local companies and that's not easy for a retailer of IKEA's scale to really abide by." PTC: IKEA's Billy bookcase is already a familiar fixture in many homes. But as the Swedish furniture retailer looks to expand into emerging markets, it may be appearing in Indian and Chinese homes. Lea Kumpulainen is a Range Strategist at IKEA. She says they offer the same products in all the markets where they operate. SOUNDBITE: Lea Kumpulainen, IKEA Range Strategist, saying (English): "Being democratic in that sense, that we don't have a kind of low-priced range somewhere where people don't have money. They should have exactly the same range as we have in London. And of course it can take many years before we can become established in the market and become popular in the markets, but we work long-term, in many senses." If IKEA achieves its expansion plans - our homes may look more alike, no matter where they are in the world.