Ikea vows to build more UK stores amid rising sales

Swedish flat pack furniture giant Ikea has reiterated its commitment to investing in Britain following the Brexit vote, as its sales continue their upward trajectory.

Ikea has a presence in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Straiton near Edinburgh. Picture: Esme Allen

UK boss Gillian Drakeford said the retailer “stands behind” the country’s decision to quit the European Union, with plans for new stores still in the pipeline.

She said: “We believe there is a lot of opportunity in the UK. We’ve been evaluating our newest stores and formats and yes, absolutely, there will be more stores. We will continue to invest in the UK.”

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Drakeford was speaking as Ikea UK’s full-year results showed sales rose 8.9 per cent to £1.7 billion in the year to the end of August, its fifth consecutive year of sales growth.

However, the result represents a slowdown on last year’s 11.3 per cent hike in takings, with Drakeford admitting it “gets a bit tougher each year”.

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The company has Scottish branches in Glasgow and Straiton, just outside Edinburgh, along with an order and collection point in Aberdeen. It opened a store in Reading earlier this year and plans to set up shop in Exeter, Greenwick and Sheffield. It is also trialling four smaller click and collect stores.

Drakeford said that any new stores were dependent on the availability of sites and funding from the Swedish parent.

Asked if there had been any deterioration in trading as a result of the vote, she said that although there was a climate of uncertainty, “consumers continue to shop our stores”.

She added: “It’s all very uncertain. We’re staying close to the situation. Consumers continue to shop our stores and we’re committed to taking care of them by investing in our stores and making shopping easier and convenient.”

Drakeford said that Ikea UK was hedged against currency movements for a “period of time” and pledged to continue investing in price, adding: “Low prices is one of our cornerstones and we will continue to invest in price.”

Ikea said sales were driven by a 17.7 per cent rise in turnover at its cooking department and an 18.8 per cent increase in mattress sales. Online business rose 31 per cent and now makes up 13.4 per cent of sales.

Drakeford said: “We launched a new website to provide an improved online experience for our customers as well as further connecting the online and offline channels.

“Our customers are increasingly using both channels to complete their purchasing journey so we’ve focused on ensuring this experience is as seamless as possible.”

Ikea created 1,700 jobs during the year, taking its total number of employees in the UK to 10,000.