Bengaluraians love to show off their balconies, and at the same time enjoy their private spaces; IKEA exploits this quirk
Four years after losing to Hyderabad – after a close race – to be IKEA’s first outlet in India, Bengaluru is now home to the Swedish furniture giant’s biggest store in the country.
Spread over 13 acres on the busy Bangalore-Tumkur road, the Nagasandra store displays over 7,000 home furnishing products, over 25% of which are locally sourced. More than 1,000 local artisans are already working in tandem with IKEA, making sofas, upholstery, armchairs, furniture, plastic and metal goods.
If the team is to be believed, local sourcing will increase significantly in the coming months/years.
At a time when foreign companies like German retailer Metro and Swiss building materials company Holcim are leaving Indian shores, IKEA plans to open more than 20 stores in the next few years. Ahmedabad, Surat, Pune, Chennai and Kolkata are the likely favourites. Buzz is that later this year or next year Delhi-NCR will have an outlet.
For your information, the project in India represents a staggering $1.5 billion.
Tailored to Indian aesthetics, IKEA offers unique designs to every city it visits. While the Hyderabad store has taller and wider designs, its Mumbai store has compact and smaller furnishings, reflecting the city’s tiny and rather crowded apartments, and in Bangalore it chooses to have furniture flexible and convertible. There is a reason for this.
According to the sources, an IKEA team visited more than 2,000 homes, studying how people build their homes and how they relax, cook, dine and sleep. In Bangalore too, extensive research was done before selecting bric-a-brac and other furnishings.
Bespoke designs for Bangalore
Why? Erik Jan Middlehoven, Director of Furnishings and Retail Design (India), said the team’s research revealed fascinating insights into a “city (Bengaluru) that is always on the move”.
“People here seem reluctant to invest heavily in individual housing like in other cities. It seems that they are not sure about settling in a particular house or place. Maybe it’s the traffic, people change jobs, possibly houses, more frequently than in Mumbai and Hyderabad. So we came up with convertible and makeshift designs so people could move around seamlessly,” Middlehoven said. The Federal in the vast giant blue store overlooking the NH-75.
Also, he said, compared to Mumbai and Hyderabad, two people (couples) work in each house, likely requiring the family to change their place of residence from time to time.
Bengaluraians love to show off their balconies, while enjoying their private space.
Says Middlehoven: “Balconies are very important for the city. Plus, most would love to have some of their outdoor space too. So we keep all these things in mind when making furniture for Bengaluru.
IKEA started its e-commerce journey in Bangalore, with a shopping website and an app in 2021. And “upstairs” doesn’t just stop in Bangalore.
Rs 3,000 crore plan for Karnataka
IKEA has bigger plans for Karnataka, pumping out an incredible Rs 3,000 crore over the next five years.
Susanne Pulverer, general manager and sustainability director at IKEA, said the business would soon expand elsewhere in Karnataka, but declined to name a city.
“We have a long-term commitment to Karnataka to create a positive impact on the local economy through our business. We will provide opportunities for a growing ecosystem for the entire industry, including the growth of people and skills, we continue to deliver on our vision of “creating a better everyday life for as many people as possible,” added Pulverer.
From a 1,000-seat restaurant and bistro serving a mix of Swedish and local specialties to the massive Småland children’s playground, The Federal Here’s a look at some of the things that struck us at Bengaluru IKEA.
- At 460,000 square feet, it is the largest IKEA outlet in India. (Commercial space)
- The one in Bengaluru is IKEA’s third large-format store in the country after Navi Mumbai and Hyderabad.
- Amid pandemic, over 8,000,000 online visitors/shoppers per month in Bangalore alone
- It employs nearly 1,000 people in Nagasandra, 72% of whom are recruited locally. Again, 20% are hired in the neighborhood (5 km away)
- Another 1,500 people are employed indirectly.
- Middle school students and young people are hired from the immediate neighborhoods “so as not to spend their time commuting in the city’s infamous traffic”. Some of them walk to work at IKEA.
- Equal opportunity employer – employee gender ratio is 50:50
- A 1,000 seat restaurant, one of the largest in India, serving chicken meatballs and local dishes.
- Massive children’s playground, named Smaland, again one of the biggest
- Walking distance to Nagasandra metro station (green line).
- IKEA’s signature product, the BILLY bookcase, is available in Bangalore. (If you didn’t know, a Billy library sells every 10 seconds in the world)
- Other branded items like MALM bed, FRAGRIK cups and GAMMALBYN sofa are also available
Will it be easy for Bangalore IKEA?
When Hyderabad IKEA opened in 2018, traffic jams, chaos and so on were reported. The Bengaluru store is expected to attract over 70 lakh visitors every year. For a city quite famous for its traffic, it remains to be seen whether people from all parts of the city will flock to visit Nagasandra, intimidated by the hype and blitz.
For example, commuting from the Central Business District (CBD) or even cash-rich Whitefield (at least 2 hours of rush hour traffic) might be a hurdle or two. This is going to be the biggest challenge for IKEA – despite the stone’s metropolitan connectivity.
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