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Colourful room setting in an IKEA store.

Bringing affordable home furnishing to India

The Indian market has presented vast commercial opportunities, but also the need to overcome social challenges, as we recently opened our first store in Hyderabad.

In August 2018, we opened our first IKEA store in Hyderabad, India. Spread over 13 acres in the heart of Hyderabad’s tech hub HITEC City, the store is expected to welcome more than seven million visits annually. It employs 982 co-workers, of which 43% are female, in line with our commitment to have 50% female co-workers at all levels and in all areas of our retail operations in India.

We have a long-term commitment to India, and we plan to open several stores and multiple touch points across the main cities over the coming years. The next Indian cities to welcome IKEA stores will be Navi Mumbai in 2019, followed by Bangalore, Gurgaon and Delhi NCR. Ecommerce will also be launched in 2019 and India’s 400 million smartphone users will offer huge opportunities for us to meet new customers online and for us to be accessible for many more of the many.

The IKEA Hyderabad store spans 40,000 m2 and includes the world’s largest IKEA restaurant with space for 1,000 guests. Hyderabad, a city of ten million people, is one of the fastest growing markets in India, and more than 10,000 new homes are expected to be built in the vicinity of the store over the next two to three years.

We expect around seven million visitors in the first year. The perception of foreign companies in India is that they charge high prices, so to make our products both affordable and available to the many people, we have worked hard on an affordability strategy in India where more than 1 000 articles are sold for just under 200 rupees (EUR 2). In addition to offering services like home delivery and kitchen installations, IKEA Retail India also offers furniture assembly for as little as EUR 6,00.

Assembly service – an essential tool for IKEA in India

India is a unique market in many ways – especially when it comes to high service expectations. Many Indians are not yet used to the concept of do-it-yourself (DIY) which is why it’s even more important for us to be able to provide efficient and affordable assembly support and services.

“In Hyderabad, we are training more than 150 IKEA co-workers in furniture assembly and installations, which has never been done on this scale before. This is very special and unique even in IKEA terms, and our aim was to deliver quality to customers from day one,” says Max Hedberg, Competence Development Specialist (People and Culture), IKEA Retail India.

The co-workers in the in-house service business team are a diverse group consisting of men and women from various backgrounds. They have been recruited from both the Hyderabad society and the DISHA1 skill development programme, and the aim is that 50% of this team will consist of women.

“The team today is equipped with the knowledge, skills and overall competence to deliver a high result. They are ready to contribute to the store build up and to visit customers’ homes and create a better everyday life”.

In addition to the in-house team, we work with an external partner to provide IKEA assembly services to customers who book via their services platform. For this initiative, local carpenters have been trained by IKEA Retail India to assemble IKEA products.

1) Disha is a partnership between the India Development Foundation and UNDP, supported by IKEA Foundation, that aims to support one million underprivileged women in India learn marketable skills and connect with income opportunities.
Source: www. ikeafoundation.org and www.in.undp.org

“During my interview IKEA talked about work-life balance, values and culture. I immediately felt that IKEA values such as humbleness, simplicity and leading by example, really matched my own values. IKEA products will improve so many peoples’ lives in India. Multifunctional products for small spaces – like my personal favourite, FRIHETEN sofa – will make a big change. It’s been my dream since childhood to have a beautiful, colourful, luxurious home. Thanks to IKEA I can now make it all come true.”

Santosh Sayari, Services Manager, IKEA Hyderabad

Equality is on the way

Staying true to our commitments of gender balance in all levels of leadership, functions, and positions by 2020, IKEA Retail India has also employed and trained female forklift drivers for its logistics operations.

“Our female forklift drivers are a great example of how women are as capable as men when it comes to taking on different roles within IKEA,” says Anna-Carin Månsson, Country People and Culture Manager, IKEA Retail India.

In a country where not many women are seen driving vehicles, the IKEA Hyderabad store has eight women forklift drivers, and another ten in its Pune distribution center.

“These women are forklift drivers in what is traditionally a male-dominated field, by holding this role and performing it with competence and ease, they shatter the myth that women should shy away from roles that are ‘meant’ for men. At IKEA Retail India, we aim to create a workplace where equality thrives, and we will always strive for a 50/50 gender balance at all levels”.

Because of a combination of socio-economical structures, culture and traditions, empowering women through work is easier said than done. Even though half of the university graduates are female, fewer educated women participate in the labour market.

“The local legislation prohibited women from working night shifts and each state in India had a different time period during which the prohibition applied. In order to facilitate more female inclusion in the workplace, we approached the local government and complied with all conditions stipulated,” says Amita Thomas, Co-worker Relations Manager, IKEA Retail India.

IKEA Retail India created a Transportation Rule that included door-to-door pick-up and drop-off for anyone working between 6PM to 6AM, one of the conditions for allowing women to work night shifts.

“As all our rules are gender neutral, this benefit was even extended to male colleagues and third-party consultants thus consolidating our position of being an equal opportunity provider”.

“For me, it’s not all about money. It’s about being independent and having influence and creating a positive impact for other women in society. As soon as I visited IKEA and saw the range, I felt a connection. It was my chance to touch the lives of the many people, to provide them with solutions to make their lives easier. Indian people need better solutions in their homes.”

Laxmi Pallapothu Dhana, Sales Manager Market Hall, IKEA Hyderabad

 

Read more about our efforts and achievements in our Annual & Sustainability Summary Report for FY18.

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