<table id="table4" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td class="Heading">Ikea plans expansion to Oman, Qatar
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By Arno Maierbrugger, Staff Reporter</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="ArticleBody"> Dubai: The Swedish furniture chain Ikea is going to expand in the Gulf region and plans to open two new stores in Oman and Qatar, the company's country operations and project manager in Dubai, Siddarth Bhide, told Gulf News.
Published: May 10, 2009, 22:51
In Abu Dhabi, Ikea is planning to enlarge its existing store in the Marina Mall, Bhide said.
The expansion plans are apparently unaffected by the current economic climate which had an impact on sales for many other retail businesses in the region. "Ikea continues to offer customers affordable, functional and well designed furniture," said Bhide. "Our business continues to grow, but at a lower rate than it did the past three years. In the current environment this is a proof of the strength of the Ikea brand and the loyalty of our customers," he adds.
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The expansion plans in the Gulf region are in line with the announcement of the newly appointed Ikea chief, Mikael Ohlsson, who will succeed the present CEO Anders Dahlvig in September this year. Ohlsson said Ikea's focus will be less on countries with saturated marets like the US or Europe, but more on emerging markets like China, Russia, and others.
Ikea opened its largest store by far in the Middle East in November 2005 at the Dubai Festival City Mall. The 24,500-square metre outlet is managed by Al Futtaim Retail on a franchise basis. Ikea opened its UAE operations in 1991 on Zabeel Road and then moved to Deira City Centre in 1995. In Abu Dhabi, the store will be expanded from currently 9000 square metres to 20,000, almost the size of the Dubai store.
Besides the expansion to Oman and Qatar, Ikea is also going to open new stores in Saudi Arabia, where it currently operates in Riyad, Jeddah and Dammam. There is also one Ikea store in Kuwait.
"Ikea is unique in many aspects, one of them being the buying process that is different compared to other retailers," Bhide said. "The Ikea design is unique in this market as it is simple, timeless, functional and affordable, thus acceptable to the majority of people."
Currently, Ikea has a presence in 32 countries and operates 296 stores. According to Ohlsson, the company does not plan to close any stores or exit any markets "in the near future".