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IKEA is an internationally known home furnishing retailer. It has grown rapidly since it was founded in 1943 with its headquarters in Denmark. Today it is the world's largest furniture retailer, recognised for its Scandinavian style. The majority of IKEA's furniture is flat-pack, ready to be assembled by the consumer. This allows a reduction in costs and packaging. IKEA carries arange of 9,500 products, including home furniture and accessories. This wide range is available in all IKEA stores and customers can order much of the range online through IKEA’s website. In August 2008 the IKEA group had 253 stores in 24 countries, with a further 32 stores owned and run by franchisees. Low prices are one of the cornerstones of the IKEA concept and help to make customers want tobuy from IKEA. This low price strategy is coupled with a wide range of well designed, functional products.
Since it was founded IKEA has always had concern for people and the environment. The IKEA vision ‘to create a better everyday life for the many people’ puts this concern at the heart of the business. IKEA has responded to the public’s rising concern for sustainability in its choice of productrange, suppliers, stores and communication. It has also spotted business potential in providing sustainable solutions.


Although IKEA is one of Sweden's best-known exports, it has not in a strict legal sense been Swedish since the early 1980s. The store has made its name by supplying Scandinavian designs at Asian prices. Unusually among retailers, it has managed its internationalexpansion without stumbling. Indeed, its brand - which stands for clean, green and attractive design and value for money - is as potent today as it has been at any time in more than 50 years in business.
The company expanded in a moderate pace up until the beginning of the 80s. From an annual turnover of 1,2 billion Euro in 1984 there has been a rapid development to 11 billion Euro in 2002. Thebiggest expansion has been in the late 90s. Outside Scandinavia the first store opened in 1973 (Switzerland). In 1985 the first establishment in the US were made, 1998 in China and 2000 in Russia.
At the end of 2002, the IKEA Group of Companies had a total of 175 stores in 31 countries. In addition, there were 19 IKEA stores owned and run by franchisees, outside the IKEA Group, in 12 countries. IKEA has continued expansion into more countries in the 1990s and 2000s. Germany, with 44 stores, is IKEA's biggest market, followed by the United States, with 37. At the end of 2009 financial year IKEA group had 267 stores in 25 countries. The first IKEA store in Latin America opened on February 17, 2010 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. However, the company has far not shown much of a presencein the developing countries.
In Hong Kong, where shop space is limited and costly, IKEA has opened three outlets across the city, which are actually part of shopping malls. They are tiny compared to common "large blue box" store design, but are huge by Hong Kong standard. Most of the outlets still have a "one-way" layout.
IKEA stores were first opened in Greece in 2004 in Athens. It has becomea phenomenon with large numbers of Greeks re-furnishing their homes from the store. Some years later IKEA opened 3 new stores in Thessaloniki, Larisa and Ioannina.
The vast majority of IKEA stores are located outside of city centres, primarily because of land cost and traffic access. Another feature of many stores are their long opening hours. Many IKEA stores are in operation 24 hours a daywith restocking and maintenance being carried out throughout the night. 


Much of IKEA's furniture is designed to be assembled by the consumer rather than being sold pre-assembled. IKEA claims this permits them to reduce costs and use of packaging by not shipping air; the volume of a bookcase, for example, is considerably less if it is shipped unassembled rather than assembled. This...