Ikea is shifting its focus for expansion towards developing markets such as China, Russia and Eastern Europe in the wake of the consumer spending downturn.

Speaking at the opening of Ikea’s Brooklyn store last week – the retailer’s 35th in the US, but its first in New York City – chief executive Anders Dahlvig admitted that the housing downturn had led to a global sales slowdown. He does not expect an economic recovery for two years.

Dahlvig said growth in European countries had started to slow and added: “A lot of things are going in the wrong direction.”

The worst hit countries are the US, Germany and the UK, although Dahlvig said even strong growth markets such as Spain had been affected. Despite this, Ikea’s Spanish and Portuguese division is expected to record a turnover of 1.5 billion (£1.19 billion) this year, up 42 per cent year on year.

The retailer has 11 stores in Spain and plans to open stores in Granada, Jerez, La Coruna, Madrid and Valladolid as it targets a portfolio of 40 by 2020.

“Slowdowns in the economy are not forever,” Dahlvig said. “It’s better to stick with a strategy than panic.”

Ikea operates from 279 wholly owned or franchise stores in 36 countries and expects to have 300 stores by the end of the year.