Ikea has posted an increase in UK sales but insisted that the business would continue to evolve amid “a challenging retail and economic environment”.

The Swedish furniture giant said total sales grew 5.9% to £1.965bn in the year to August 31, buoyed by the opening of two new big box stores in Exeter and Sheffield.

Ikea said ongoing investment in its digital proposition, services and improving its product range also contributed to the sales growth.

The uplift in revenues helped Ikea grow its share of the UK home furnishings market to 8.4%, up from 8% the prior year.

Footfall to its stores advanced 4.5% to 59.8 million customers, while 199.3 million shoppers visited its website – up 13.4%.

Online sales grew 14.4% during the period and now account for 15.5% of Ikea’s UK sales.

Ikea’s UK boss Javier Quiñones said the figures marked “a positive year” for the business.

Quiñones added: “With our vision to create a better everyday life for the many people, we continue to invest in a range that’s affordable, accessible and inspirational.

“In a tough economic environment, our homes provide a sanctuary and we know that consumers continue to update them with soft furnishings, textiles and decorations, resulting in an increase of 9% in home decoration.”

Since the year end, Ikea has launched its first Planning Studio on London’s Tottenham Court Road as part of its push into city centres and increasing focus on accessibility, convenience and services.

The retailer will also open a big box store in Greenwich in spring 2019, taking its large store portfolio to 22.

Quiñones said: “Our stores will always be an important part of the Ikea brand when it comes to inspiration, touching and feeling our products and this is reflected in the increase in visitation of 4.5% on last year.

“In FY18 we continued to invest in our existing stores including the total refurbishment of Ikea Nottingham, it’s just like new. We also revamped the textiles department in Milton Keynes, giving more space for customers and co-workers to co-create together.

“However, we know that the role of the store is changing. People want to shop in a number of different ways and count on brands to offer them services that reflect the way they live.

“That’s why we are focused on providing a seamless shopping experience and want to give our customers the choices they expect, no matter how they choose to shop with us.”