Sticking with click-and-collect format this week, Ikea have just announced plans to trial three smaller format stores in the UK. The first new store will be 19,000 square feet and offer products on an ‘order-and-collect’ basis combined with a studio area where customers can discuss and plan more intricate purchases, such as kitchens and bathrooms. The smaller store is expected to be open in the autumn and will be located on a retail park in Norwich.
Speaking to Retail week, Gillian Drakeford, Ikea UK country manager explained that, if successful, the smaller format stores will not be intended as a replacement for larger stores – which have notoriously struggled to obtain planning permission, due to their size – but rather as a method for increasing accessibility for consumers who currently might wish to make several trips or travel quite far to visit their nearest store.
At present, anyone in Norwich wishing to visit Ikea has to make a four hour round trip to their nearest store and figures show that when planning something complicated like a kitchen, shoppers will visit the store around 8 times – so by placing a smaller store with an area for kitchen planning in a more easily accessible area, they are going to be able to increase their offer dramatically., as Drakeford explains:
“We need to start testing [different store models]. That is one of the areas where many UK retailers have been at the forefront and now it is Ikea’s turn to do that. But it will always be as a complement to the [existing] store portfolio.”
Drakeford goes on to suggest that obtaining planning for the stores is less of an issue than it previously was as they plan to develop 4 more larger Ikea stores in the UK within the next few years:
“We still have a huge opportunity to build our portfolio of stores and in some respects we are coming from a position of strength now.”
The Norwich outlet, will be less than a tenth the size of Ikea’s existing UK stores and will not offer click-and-collect straight away – waiting until it has been launched in larger stores first, as part of an overhaul to the retailer’s global IT infrastructure.
Despite the smaller size, the new store will feature one of the staple features of larger stores: a café and Swedish food shop, to entice customers to linger and consider their purchases. As always we’ll be very interested to see if this new format takes off…