Ikea has opened its first-of-its-kind small-format store in the UK in Hammersmith, west London.
The new store, which is a quarter of the size of the traditional blue boxes the furniture giant is best known for, measures 46,000 sq ft across two floors.
For the first time, Ikea’s products will be available to buy directly from a high street store.
The shop will focus on selling small homewares and takeaway items while giving inspiration and the ability to order the full Ikea range for home delivery.
Found in the former King’s Mall, which has been renamed Livat after Ikea parent company Ingka Group revamped the shopped centre, the store has three entrances, each of which is dedicated to a different area of the home.
It features a variety of Ikea’s iconic room sets for the bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom and home office, all of which have been crafted after conducting virtual home visits with Hammersmith residents to ensure the offer is tailored to their homes and needs.
Around 1,800 items will be sold to takeaway and more than 4,000 are on display to provide inspiration.
The store includes a Planning Studio where customers can speak to experts to build their perfect rooms, as well as a Bargain Corner where second-hand items will be available to purchase.
Customers will be able to buy refreshments including Ikea’s famous meatballs from the in-store cafe, while a Swedish deli will sell sandwiches and coffees.
The deli will open one hour earlier than the rest of the store to serve customers on their way to work.
It will also be Ikea’s first cashless store with self-checkout stations around the store.
This new store format is the evolution of Ikea’s previous smaller stores which included a planning studio on Tottentham Court Road, and a handful of Order and Collect stores in locations such as Birmingham and London’s Westfield.
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Jelkeby: ‘We are investing in our infinite future’
Ikea UK chief executive and chief sustainability officer Peter Jelkeby said: “We chose Hammersmith because we thought it would be a great location for us. There’s a big movement of people there, and looking at our market penetration we saw a gap there.
“It’s easily accessible by public transport, which supports a more sustainable way of visiting us. We also wanted to have a shopping experience that complements the environment it’s in – where customers can walk in and walk out with ease.
“We went completely cashless in order to simplify things and make it easier to shop. We hope we will be busy, and it will allow customers to come in and out in a fairly efficient way.”
Ikea has said that it will be making £1bn of investment in London over the next three years to bring its stores closer to where customers live, work and shop.
This will include its Oxford Street store, which is set to open in autumn 2023, as well as investment in its click-and-collect offer.
Jelkeby told Retail Week: “In a nutshell, the investment will go into the Westminster store, new Livat centres and our distribution.
“We are investing in our infinite future, supporting our sales channel strategies. We’re investing in stores and distribution centres to support our omnichannel shopping. We’re also looking at services and new ways of distributing so our whole transformation is very connected.”
The retailer has opened click-and-collect lockers for customers to pick up their orders around London with the first two in Richmond and Twickenham. Three more are planned to open in West London in March.
Jelkeby said: “The lockers are a little bit like click and collect but customers will collect from a locker located somewhere where accessibility to a store is lower, but where we don’t believe we need a store. It’s a pick-up point to complement the total shopping journey.”
He added that Ikea is likely to take any learnings from the store and apply it to the Oxford Street version next year with development plans for that space ongoing.
Retail Week’s verdict
The long-awaited arrival of Ikea’s smaller-format store did not disappoint. While the store was bigger than expected, the ability to explore the shop at random is a welcome change from the guided routes around a traditional Ikea store, allowing for quicker and easier shopping trips.
The store’s different zones are clearly demarcated, with conjoining categories in between – for example, rugs in between both bedroom and living room areas – to create a holistic journey throughout the store. It has more of a department store feel, which elevates the experience.
The attention to detail in creating room sets that align with the size and space of the average London flat, as well as “lowest price” rooms, are great features and will help customers find inspiration no matter their budget or space.
Slightly disappointing elements were the size and prominence of the sustainability Bargain Corner where second-hand items would be sold, considering Ikea’s environmental pledges, as well as the size of the in-store cafe.
The store certainly garnered a lot of attention from passers-by pre-opening, so it will be interesting to see whether this translates into sales.