When thinking of interesting examples of retailers for my series of lectures on Retail and Merchandising, I could not ignore the mighty IKEA. This extraordinary success story has impacted on most of our lives in the UK and in most countries around the world. Whether we have a Billy bookcase somewhere in the house or have kitted out our kids’ student accommodation with extra IKEA lamps and duvets, the chances are that we have all experienced the joys of the showroom maze, the ‘marketplace’ and the ‘warehouse’.
Founder Ingvar Kamprad certainly had noble ideals. As a keen environmentalist, he was intent on keeping costs down to ensure a fair price for customers, and the revolutionary idea of flat-pack, self-assembly furniture made this a reality. But has this very affordability encouraged us to be more wasteful? Are we not more likely to replace our IKEA purchases more regularly, as fashions change, simply because we can afford to do so? Whatever the long-term effects, no one can deny that as a retailer, Kamprad has it made.