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Coronavirus effect could aid Ikea parent company’s US mall expansion


As the pandemic makes human interactions more dangerous, retailers are turning to robots to perform essential tasks in their stores. (May 12)

AP Domestic

Ingka Centres, the parent company of Ikea, reportedly has plans to build out its mall business in the U.S., despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its quashing effect on retail.

The Leiden, Netherlands-headquartered company, which owns 45 shopping malls globally including locations in China, Europe, and Russia, is seeking to expand into the U.S within the next few years, Reuters reports. Each of its malls also has an Ikea store as a tenant.

Ingka Centres plans to invest €7.3 billion (about $7.9 billion) in the coming years, “as we move into cities and expand into new markets, creating meeting places that are positive for both people and planet, and embracing digitalisation for an omni-channel world,” the company said in a statement sent to USA TODAY.

Ingka Centres managing director Gerard Groener told Reuters the company is currently negotiating downtown real estate locations. Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are key locations for Ingka Centres’ strategy, he said.

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While some states have begun to lessen stay-at-home orders and allow the reopening of stores, the retail business is expected to endure a global slowdown for the foreseeable future. But that could be an opportunity for expansion, Groener told Reuters.

The company looks to open malls in more than 40 major cities across Europe, Russia, North America, it says.  “Opening in new markets will be a big part of the company’s plans, as will continuing to grow in China, where we are developing mixed-use projects. Ingka Centres will continue to invest in upgrading the existing portfolio as well,” the company’s statement said.

In the interview with Reuters, Groener said, “We are in a very active search. … Maybe it’s a good time to buy now. I’d say it’s more a buyers’ market than a sellers’ market currently in the U.S.”

In addition to 45 malls, Ingka Centres operates 367 Ikea stores worldwide through its Ikea Retail division.

Ikea faces a potential class action lawsuit, in a claim filed Wednesday in federal court, which alleges the retailer knowingly sold unsafe dressers that could crush small children and issued a “feeble and ineffective” recall leaving millions of the dressers in U.S. homes.

Contributing: Tricia L. Nadolny

Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.

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