Less than a week before the scheduled opening of its first India store, Swedish furnishing major Ikea announced a change in plan. Instead of July 19, Ikea’s Hyderabad store will now open on August 9, a company statement said on Friday, days after the invites had been sent out for the grand inauguration of the 400,000 sq ft facility by the global CEO Jesper Brodin. It needs some more time to live up to its expected quality commitments towards customers and co-workers, Ikea India CEO Peter Betzel said in a statement.
Responding to a query on why Ikea decided to move the date after finalising everything, a company executive said, "The reasons are of our readiness to welcome the many people in a good way in the store." Although local infrastructure issues such as a flyover construction close to the Ikea store at Hi-Tech City in Hyderabad may have been a hurdle, the company said the Telangana government had been very supportive.
Around 45,000 visitors are expected at the store on the launch day and the company may have felt that the required measures to ensure smooth movement of the crowd in terms of external parking were still not in place, a source said. Over the next 20 days or so, the infrastructure issues may get resolved to some extent, he said.
"It’s about our own readiness in the store to match the high standards that we would like people to experience," the executive said when asked whether infrastructure gaps had forced the company to move the store opening date. Ikea is opening its first store in the country six years after announcing its 1.5 billion euros investment in single-brand retail business.
On the number of visitors likely to come for the store opening, the executive said, "This is our first store and we are ready to be positively surprised. We will communicate the new date in all our ongoing outdoor communications."
According to the company, this is not the first time that Ikea is doing something as drastic as changing the opening date after sending out invites and going all out on publicity blitz. "Ikea has over 450 stores in more than 50 countries. We believe in doing things right. This isn’t a first time scenario. In the past, situations such as adverse climate have resulted in delays." But the day the company opens the store, "we should be sure that we offer our customers a great quality experience and a safe and secure place for our customers and co-workers", a spokesperson said. The company is yet to confirm whether Brodin would fly down for the opening on August 9.