Retail in Asia

In Shops

IKEA opens its second store in Seoul

Ikea Southeast Asia - Retail in Asia

Ikea Korea’s store in Goyang, Gyeonggi, was designed to be “local-relevant,” according to the company during a media tour, exactly before it opened to the public.

This is the Swedish furniture giant’s second branch in Korea after its Gwangmyeong branch opened its doors in late 2014.

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Adding to Gwangmyeong, located in the Southwest of Seoul, the Goyang branch offers a more convenient option to consumers from the Northwestern metropolitan area.

“Gwangmyeong was the most successful store in the world by far [in terms of annual sales last year,] and we had customers asking, ‘When are you coming closer to my home?’” said Andre Schmidtgall, retail manager of Ikea Korea, “and we opened our second store to be more accessible to people.”

The store takes up 52,199 square meters (562,000 square feet) – slightly smaller than Gwangmyeong – on the second and third floors of the building. The first floor and basement will be occupied by Lotte Outlets.

Ikea also opened Ikea restaurant and cafe – with its iconic meatballs and Swedish pastries – with a parking lot with the capacity for 2,379 vehicles.

The branches in Gwangmyeong and Goyang are fairly similar, but the company added a regional touch to the new store by considering the regions’ demographics when it designed part of the shop floor. Ikea Korea visited more than 100 families nearby the site to better understand their lifestyle.

“One difference we found was that there are more families here with children in their teens,” said Cecilia Johansson, the manager of Ikea’s Goyang store and previous manager of Gwangmyeong branch. This revelation motivated the company to set up a furniture section for this particular age group.

Like other Ikea stores, the new branch is also packed with eco-friendly energy solutions, such as the 4,446 solar panels on the roof and a reusable water system.

Before the official launch, the Goyang branch opened for two days exclusively for those who held Ikea Family membership.

Meanwhile, Ikea Korea is facing a shift in its business environment as the government has been making moves to implement laws that may affect its management strategy, such as a recent decision to make tax audits on some limited liability companies obligatory.

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During the press event, Schmidtgall stating that Ikea Korea fully abides to domestic laws and that the company is always open for dialogues.

In response to a proposal to force complex malls to close for two days a month, Schmidtgall said that he does not consider Ikea a “complex mall” because its focus is on home furniture, not retail goods in general, and it is registered by the government as a specialized store, implying that it is hard to label Ikea a “complex mall” that may threaten local merchants.

There have been rumors that Ikea may be planning to open a store in Hanam, Gyeonggi.

Schmidtgall ruled out the idea, saying the company has never even looked into the site and has absolutely no plans to do so in the near future.