In Brief

Ikea to shut first big UK store risking 350 jobs

Swedish giant says Coventry outlet has made consistent losses

Ikea

Ikea has announced that it will shut down its Coventry city centre store this summer.

The Swedish flat-pack furniture giant said the outlet has made “consistent losses” since opening in 2007, with fewer people visiting than expected.

Ikea, which has 22 stores in the UK, said that it remains committed to growth in the UK, with the BBC noting that this is the company’s first big closure of a UK outlet.

The retailer says it will enter consultations with the 352 employees affected by the closure and hopes to retain as many as possible in the company.

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Ikea said in a statement: “The store was built over seven levels, which resulted in a significant impact on the operating costs of the store and the shopping experience for customers.

“In addition, the changing behaviour of customers in the area who prefer to shop in retail parks and online has resulted in visitor numbers being substantially lower than expected and continuing to decrease over time.”

Dave Gill, national officer for trade union Usdaw, told Sky News: “This is devastating news for Ikea staff working at the Coventry store.

“Our priorities are to seek redeployment opportunities, minimise compulsory redundancies and secure the best deal we can for our members.”

The Guardian reports that the closure could also “knock a hole in the city’s finances”, as the store is its 11th biggest business rates payer, handing over nearly £1m a year.

Responding to the planned shuttering, one analyst said that it is time for Ikea to reconsider aspects of its distinctive model.

Patrick O’Brien, GlobalData’s retail research director, said: “When the Coventry Ikea was opened, it was still very much about imposing the ‘Ikea way’ on customers; you walk this way round the maze, you pick it up yourself, you put it together yourself.

“Things have moved on in UK retail now, it’s all about how best to serve the customer, and Ikea has had to adapt and change their model.”

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