Ikea will open its first American city center store, dubbed the "IKEA Planning Studio," in Manhattan in spring 2019. The store will focus on "smart solutions for urban living and small spaces," the Swedish furniture and home goods retailer said in a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
Ikea created its Planning Studio concept with the help of New Yorkers, who provided input throughout the planning process, the company said. The store at 999 Third Avenue will "give customers the opportunity to discover, select and order IKEA products for delivery to their home, which is what urban residents want and need."
The Midtown Manhattan store is part of Ikea's recent pivot to a sales strategy based on its own research finding that people globally are increasingly moving into more urban areas. By 2030, twice as many people — some 60% of people in the world — will live in large cities, and more will be decorating smaller homes with fewer resources, the company said earlier this year.
Ikea is not only shifting its real estate strategy to meet customers where the company believes they will increasingly live but is also adding services to its sales focus.
The company's previous CEO, Peter Agnefjall, had begun to emphasize that the company would be revisiting the quality of its goods, under pressure from online sales of better quality furniture that are undermining Ikea's convenience premise. But these days, the company, now led by Jesper Brodin who arrived as president and CEO of Ikea Group in September last year, is talking less about quality and more about how and where it should sell its goods.
"We recognize that we are in a rapidly changing retail environment, and to be fit for long-term growth, IKEA is transforming in a way that lets us meet our customers where they are," Lars Petersson, country manager, IKEA Retail U.S, said in a statement. "New York City is the natural choice to open the first city center store — the most vibrant, dynamic city in the US, and the epicenter of retail, business, and culture."
The retailer recently announced plans for 30 urban store concepts over the next two years. A departure from the warehouse-style locations in suburban areas, the urban stores are more experiential, with a series of showroom spaces that go beyond those typically found in its massive big-box stores.
The company has begun rolling out the program in the U.S. and Europe with a focus on online sales that it had previously neglected. In the U.S. and U.K., Ikea also offers in-home assembly of its famously confounding flat-packs in partnership with TaskRabbit, which it acquired last year.