IKEA Group on Wednesday announced the appointment of company veteran Jesper Brodin as president and CEO starting Sept. 1, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive. Brodin has been with the company for more than 20 years and is currently the Managing Director of IKEA of Sweden, responsible for the development of the product range and supply chain.
Brodin replaces Peter Agnefjall, who has been CEO for five years and has held other roles at Ikea for 22 years; he told Bloomberg that the job requires “working 365 days a year, 15 to 16 hours per day, and at some point one needs to hand over to the next generation.”
Ikea has streamlined its complex organizational structure amid an effort to improve product quality and ramp up e-commerce. Brodin is expected to work on expanding in Asia and online, according to reports.
In his statement Wednesday, Lars-Johan Jarnheimer, Chairman of INGKA Holding B.V., said he respects Agnefjäll's decision to depart. “I am pleased to welcome Jesper to his new role. I am convinced that his extensive experience, and passion for life at home and retailing, will enable him to successfully continue the remarkable work conducted by Peter Agnefjäll," he said. "While I am sad to see Peter leave after many years of service, I respect his decision. Under Peter’s leadership, IKEA Group has expanded into new and crucial markets, accelerated our retail transformation in order to meet the changing needs of customers, and taken our sustainability commitments further. I look forward to working with Jesper as we take our next steps in becoming the world’s leading multichannel home furnishing retailer for the many people.”
Ikea is at a crossroad. Admittedly late to e-commerce and increasingly hamstrung by its reputation for inexpensive, lower-quality (if well-designed) merchandise, the company has said in recent months that it’s taking steps to elevate its standards.
Even Ikea’s biggest fans will tell you its stuff isn’t exactly built to last. In some cases, it’s not even built to stand, at least not without special tools to fasten it to a wall. Longevity is far from the only concern. Agnefjall's call to manufacture higher-quality goods arrived soon after Ikea recalled 29 million chests and dressers sold in North America and China — products blamed in multiple deaths and injuries of young children.
Earlier this year, the company revealed that it's working on new ways to put together its notoriously difficult-to-assemble products, with Brodin telling Inc. magazine in March that it will significantly speed up the process, a boon for those who may need to leave home in a hurry (and cementing its reputation for the go-to furniture for the recently graduated and the recently split). "There are more divorces," Brodin said. "So if you get kicked out [of your house] in the morning, you can reassemble your table in the afternoon."
Ikea for years largely eschewed e-commerce, conducting the vast majority of its business through its big-box stores and print catalog. The strategy has slowed the retailer’s overall growth, and after reporting overall online sales growth of just 0.4% in 2014, Ikea pledged to increase e-commerce from about €1 billion per year to at least €5 billion in the next five years, in order to meet its targeted sustained overall growth rate of 10% per year. The company wants to double overall sales by 2020, and that will now be squarely on Brodin's plate.