Ikea India, CFO, Preet Dhupar
Q. What are your expectations from the Navi Mumbai store launch, which is taking place in the middle of the pandemic?
We have been available online in Mumbai for almost a year and launched a store in Navi Mumbai on December 18. When you look at the online business, we've had an extremely positive response from the people of Mumbai. We hope that as the health scenario improves, more people will be able to visit the store. By FY21, we are hoping to see 5 million visitors in our Navi Mumbai store, annually. With the launch happening right in the middle of the pandemic, our first priority will be ensuring the safety and security of our customers and co-workers. We are doing this via a registration process—for people to visit the store—wherein they need to pick the date and tell us the number of people they are coming with.
Q. How important is India when it comes to Ikea's global supply chain?
India has been an important part of our global supply chain for over 35 years, especially as an important source of rugs, carpets and textiles. It took time to build the supply chain in the country. In the last five years, since retail has stepped in, we've stepped up our capability in other categories. Some of our best-selling mattresses are now made in India and we have introduced sofas that are made in India. One category that we are working on is solid board and board-based material, but it will take some time. Therefore, we believe that we will make a positive contribution to the growth of the furniture and the home furnishing industry in India.Q. With work-from-home becoming the new normal, what are some of the trends that are picking up?
We are seeing a huge increase in demand in our category of workspaces, including desks and chairs for home offices. In addition to this, we are noticing people need to do a lot of reorganisation of their homes, since parents are working from home and kids are studying from home too. Therefore, we are seeing a lot of uptake in categories like kitchenware, storing and organising, and also the outdoor furniture category. During this tough time, home became a sanctuary for all of us. We have been offering ideas, solutions and inspirations to re-do your home. For instance, how to create a more interesting dining experience or how to re-do your balcony.Q. To what extent has the pandemic impacted Ikea’s expansion plans in India?
When we first came in, the initial investment figure that we quoted to the government was ₹10,500 crore. So far, we have invested about ₹7,000 crore in stores and the logistics network in India. The only thing that the pandemic and the lockdown did was slow down our work, but we have a long-term plan for the Indian market and Covid hasn't impacted our investment plans at all.Q. Where can we expect the next Ikea store in India?
We have two additional smaller stores opening in Mumbai soon. Globally, as well as in India, we will be in the market with different formats of stores, large as well as small. Our Bengaluru store is under construction, we have also acquired land in Gurugram and are in the process of land acquisition in Noida. So, Noida and Gurugram are going to be two large projects.
(This story appears in the 01 January, 2021 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)