Covid-19 made Ikano Retail stronger

The Covid pandemic has gone on so long and impacted our business in so many ways that we no longer call it a ‘crisis.’ It’s a constant, and we have learned to live with it.

Together, our 4,300 co-workers have tackled one challenge after the other and developed our business at the same time. “While we still have a tough road ahead, we are coming out of this pandemic with new resilience and strength,’’ says CEO and Retail Manager, Christian Rojkjaer. “I have never been prouder of our team.’’

The worst lock-downs yet

Our IKEA stores and shopping centres closed for up to 83 days – longer even than the year before. Closures at construction sites created further delays in our expansion projects. The global shipping crisis pushed our stock levels to such lows that our store shelves were sometimes left bare. Restricted borders kept many of our co-workers apart from loved ones as travel between our countries in Southeast Asia and beyond became impossible.

Through it all, we kept our focus on what matters most: creating a better everyday life for the many people. In and out of a second year in lockdowns, many people continued to turn to IKEA to set up workspaces, playrooms and kitchens. We sold 5 million bowls and plates from our OFTAST range alone.

Reaching more people

We opened IKEA Oceania, our first store in Mexico, and our first small store format in our most mature Market, IKEA Jurong in Singapore. At just over 6,000 square meters, IKEA Jurong goes big on digital solutions that showcase the full range, direct our customers and entertain the kids. All co-workers are multi-skilled and ready to process orders with mobile tablets.

We also met a record 113 million visitors on our IKEA websites and rung up SGD 212 million (EUR 135 million) in ecommerce sales – up 57% from the previous year.

Meanwhile, we also pushed through pandemic delays to prepare for the opening of the biggest IKEA in the world – with IKEA Pasay City in Manila, Philippines. We built up a loyal fan following with a co-creation campaign that saw some 2,000 families entering to be IKEA ‘magazine’ cover models.

New services to meet changing needs

Our Ikano Centres supported many tenants through the tough times to secure a healthy lease rate of 92%. Over lockdowns and movement restrictions, we piloted multiple services to increase connectivity between tenants and customers. We launched personal shopping services and brought onboard 300 tenant partners to an online shopping platform. For F&B tenants, we subsidised food delivery orders for customers on the same app.

‘Now, as our centres open up, we’re making sure that they continue to be meeting places for the many,’’ says Christian, ‘’offering a safe and fun day out as our economies open up.”

We opened two IKEA Planning Studios in Singapore and Thailand to offer complete interior design and home renovation services, helping people to create dream homes. We relaunched our IKEA B2B business in Southeast Asia and handled inquiries from more than 1,000 enterprises looking to IKEA for help in furnishing offices and more.

Our IKEA Food team filled more tummies and charted 260,000 transactions through new ventures, including an in-store juice bar, Click & Collect for people on the go, a Juice Bar and Ice Cream shop, a vending machine with Swedish Bistro treats, and new delivery services that bring IKEA meatballs direct to our customers’ doors.

Caring for the planet

Our markets in the global south face among the gravest threats from extreme heat, rising seas and the increasing frequency of natural disasters. The focus on sustainability in our business has never been greater.

After more than two years of work with partners, suppliers and government bodies, we made our first deliveries in Electric Vehicles in three markets. In Thailand, we opened our first Circular Shop and started a project to reduce packaging waste in our home-delivered parcels. Across all our stores and centres, we generated renewable energy from some 30,000 solar panels on our properties and rooftops to meet 12% of our electricity needs and set a tough new target to reach at least 50% by 2025, and 100% by 2030.

Our IKEA Food teams worked hard to limit food waste as abrupt store closures left us with unused supplies, giving away tonnes of packaged products to food banks. We started converting waste into compost in Malaysia while investing in new technology to liquidise waste from our kitchens in Singapore. At the same time, we advanced our ambition to offer 50% plant-based meals in our restaurants by 2025, serving up locally-sourced dishes – plant burgers, plant schnitzel and plant wraps!

Taking care of people

We safeguarded jobs and welcomed 700 new co-workers to our family. With the strain created by Covid-19, we increased awareness of mental wellness, set up a crisis hotline and offered personal counselling services to co-workers in need of extra support.

In Thailand, we set up a 24-hour support line to help co-workers secure Covid-tests, quarantine facilities and even hospital beds if needed. Our Ikano Centres in Malaysia partnered with tenants and food banks to distribute meals to 700 families in need who had lost livelihoods. Internally, one store ran an internal food drive to support families of co-workers in need.

‘’Empathy and care have become a really visible part of our company culture. I hope that will be one of many positive changes to come out of Covid.’’

Christian Rojkjaer CEO & Retail Manager, Ikano Retail