Ikea testing small format stores

RetailME Bureau

Furniture retailer Ikea plans to test three small store formats in the UK before 2015-end in order to become more accessible to consumers. The small format trial is part of Ikea’s global initiative. It is also trialling similar stores in Pamplona, Spain, Tromsø in Norway and Jyväskylä in Finland. However, these small formats will not act as replacement for upcoming Ikea big-box stores.

The first small format trial in the UK will be through a 19,000 sqft order and collect store in a Norwich retail park set to open in autumn, serving as a studio where customers can plan complex purchases such as kitchens. Customers who order in-store will have the option of having products delivered to their homes or to the Norwich store for pick-up. A café will also feature in the Norwich store.

“We need to start testing different store models. That is one of the areas where many UK retailers have been at the forefront and now it is our turn. But it will always complement the existing store portfolio,” says Ikea UK country manager Gillian Drakeford. “Click-and-collect will launch in small format stores eventually, but only once it has launched in larger stores first once Ikea completes a global IT infrastructure overhaul.”

Considering that customers ordering kitchens from Ikea often visit the store up to eight times, Ikea hopes the Norwich store will make the retailer a lot more accessible to customers in the area, who currently need to undertake a four-hour round trip to get to the nearest Ikea in Lakeside.

The retailer is developing the layout of the three small format stores, but plans to develop different concepts in each including in-store technology that will link up the offline and online experience. Ikea is exploring the possibility of launching one of its small format stores in London. On the other hand, the retailer is also planning to open four large stores in Reading, Greenwich, Sheffield and Exeter. The Reading store will open first and is expected to be ready for business by next summer.