Ikea hands control to store bosses

Ikea UK managing director Peter Hogsted has declared war on bureaucracy and has delegated key strategy decisions to store managers.

The changes come as the retailer limbers up for an aggressive assault on the UK market. Hogsted intends to shake up what he sees as an overly slow and unwieldy decision-making process.

He is reshaping the Brent Cross head office and deploying 120 key executives to front-line positions in stores. A team of 70 staff will remain at the London base to focus on business development.

Hogsted has also abolished the UK management group and has instead devised a localised structure, under which managers pitch ideas to individual store boards.

'A business has a life cycle and gets to a mature stage,' said Hogsted. 'This is the start of a new era internally and will be followed by a new era externally. Instead of one Ikea running 12 stores, we have sliced it into 12 smaller companies.'

The strategy heralds a more aggressive Ikea that intends to capitalise on its 'friendly rebel' status. Hogsted wants to shake off the perception that it sells only 'Scandinavian modern' furniture by highlighting the breadth of its offer to attract new shoppers.

Ikea is also continuing to cut queues, and Hogsted proclaimed 24-hour trading to be the way forward for stores, particularly in London where pressure is greatest. Trading in the UK is 'fantastic', he said.

- Interiors: page 26.