Ikea to Double India-Sourced Goods

The company believes it can replicate in India its success in China and Russia.

Swedish home furnishings company Ikea said on Sept. 20 that it aimed to double the value of goods it sources from India as it pitched for New Delhi to open up the nation's huge retail market to foreigners.

Ikea sources 500 million euros (US$655 million) in textiles and other goods from India and plans to boost that figure to one billion euros "within three to four years," said CEO Mikael Ohlsson told AFP.

Ikea, which shelved plans to enter India's retail segment in 2009 because the country restricts foreign ownership of single-brand retailers to 51%, is still keen to open stores in the country, Ohlsson added.

India's tight investment rules restrict overseas companies to "back-end" wholesaling -- except for single-brand outlets such as Nokia or Reebok -- to protect local, family-run stores which fear being driven out of business.

Ohlsson, in India on a trip to inspect the company's 125-million-euro South Asia development program helping children and women, urged the government to relax regulations, saying there was "room for all players."

"We believe we can create employment -- jobs in cities and outside cities, we can be part of transforming industry," he said in an interview in New Delhi.

Ikea believes it can replicate in India its success in China and Russia, Ohlsson said. The company sees huge potential in India's burgeoning middle class whose "wallet is still thin" but wants "good furniture at a good price," Ohlsson said.

Ikea is one of a slew of international retailers that include France's Carrefour and Wal-Mart pushing the Indian government to open up its retail sector to serve consumers in the fast-growing economy.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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