The UK Country Manager of flat-pack furniture specialist Ikea has described the last fiscal period as “another tough year” for the retailer.
Martin Hansson said on Friday that low consumer confidence and a “stagnant housing market” have combined to put pressure on the business, which is reflective of the squeezed home & DIY sector as a whole.
Like-for-like sales in the 12 months to August 31st 2011 were down three per cent year-on-year at the company’s UK arm, but the boss of Ikea’s British operation is confident that a raft of improvements to both products and store experience will ensure the firm continues to operate from a market-leading position.
“Looking ahead, we are confident that our commitment to price, quality and improving our services will enable us to strengthen our market position over the coming year,” Hansson explained.
“We also expect our newly-launched service initiatives to deliver a strong return on investment, in fact we are already seeing a 60 per cent increase in take up of our lower-priced delivery service to date.
“Over the next year, we will invest £26.6 million to make more improvements to our in-store shopping environment. Plus we intend to make it even easier for customers to shop online by adding a further 1,500 more products, improving our delivery lead times, and introducing new functions such as the launch of mobile optimised sites and additional mobile apps.”
It was also announced earlier this year that ten of Ikea’s UK stores will be fitted with solar panels, as the retailer looks to increase its sustainability credentials.
Ikea UK, which encompasses 18 stores in total, saw overall sales for the year reach £1.15 billion in the 12 months to September.