Ikea will finally open its doors in Latin America. The Swedish furniture giant will open its first store in Mexico on April 8. The event, which was initially scheduled for last October, has been waiting due to restrictions due to the pandemic. The place will have 23,500 square meters, 300 employees and will represent a new model within the company, an unknown in the region, until now.
Opening a store of Ikea’s colossal dimensions in the midst of the coronavirus health crisis is no easy task. When the company’s arrival in Mexico was announced in 2019, the construction work was expected to be finished. However, the red traffic light paralyzed the works on Avenida del Peñón 355, near Mexico’s International Airport, where the first of the three stores planned on Mexican soil will be located. Consequently, the opening date was postponed up to six times, and the first contact of many customers with the brand was through the online store, where orders have been delayed and stocks of certain furniture were very limited.
Malcolm Pruys, Ikea’s sales manager and director in Mexico, recalls that with the cessation of non-essential activities in the capital, they lost almost three months in the progress for the inauguration. His daunting task of opening the first Swedish furniture store in the region became increasingly difficult. “It is very hard because people are very excited and we do not want to disappoint them,” he says. With a staggered return to work, many PCRs for the staff and trying to maintain a healthy distance in a construction area, he finally managed to announce the final date: next April 8.
Some lucky ones were able to do their shopping while waiting for the opening of the physical store on the website. Users who tried the service complained online that many of the pieces of furniture were barely left in stock, that deliveries contained a fraction of their order due to stock-outs, and that delivery times were longer than expected. “We imported materials and some products were stuck in ports in the US for long periods of time,” acknowledges Pruys. Despite everything, he assures that they now have the largest stock available since they arrived in Mexico and are prepared. The manager, who has been with the company for more than 23 years, has been at the helm of openings in Taiwan or China. “This is the most challenging environment I have ever faced, but the team is hard-working, dedicated and sacrifices,” he says.
In total, the company has hired 300 employees who will work in the physical store. 25% of them are from the Venustiano Carranza mayor’s office where the premises are located, so a quarter of the workforce will be able to walk to work. “We want to be as local as possible,” insists Pruys. In addition, the company maintains a priority that the team has diversity and includes Mexicans as a workforce. There are 65 employees in the company’s management offices, and Pruys expects it to grow to between 90 and 100 employees.
The first store in Mexico will have a different model than the one used in the US or Europe. You will be in a more central area of the city within a shopping center, rather than on the outskirts. The place will be smaller than its American brothers and will be designed under a more digital model. With the pandemic, the visit to the store will have to be booked through its web portal, which will open the service for customers to save a gap in the calendar on April 1. In parallel, one of the products in the catalog will be Ikea-branded furniture and property insurance in the event of fires, theft, earthquakes or hurricanes, something that only exists in Switzerland and Singapore. “Mexico is a country with little tradition of insurance companies. If you invest money in furnishing your house, you should have security to protect your home ”, adds the director.
The next store will be in Puebla, it will be smaller and will aspire to hire 120 people. One is also scheduled to open in Monterrey, but there is still no specific location for the store. In the rest of the continent there are already premises under construction in Chile, Colombia and Peru.
With more than 422 stores around the world, Ikea revolutionized the market more than 75 years ago in Sweden with a concept of affordable furniture that can be assembled at home by customers. Under a philosophy of sustainability and minimalist Scandinavian design, Ikea has found in the pandemic a way to revalue the concept of home. “With the pandemic, houses have become our safe places,” emphasizes Pruys. The founder of the company, Ingvar Kamprad (1926-2018), founder of the company, left the empire that continues to grow in countries such as India, where by 2025 they plan to open 25 more stores in parallel with their expansion. for Latin America.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.