After 69 years of keeping its private financial affairs private, IKEA published earnings data for the first time this month. With EU $25.2 billion in sales and EU $3.6 billion in profit in FY 2011, it's surprising that the company hasn't been more bragadocious in the past. That's so unlike a major retailer.
The big change in financial transparency might be the result of the big leadership changes that are in the future of IKEA. One year from now when CEO Mikael Ohlsson resigns, Peter Agnefjäll will take his place. By the time that switchover occurs, IKEA plans to be opening between 20 and 25 new international locations each year, which is about three times as many international store locations as IKEA opened in 2011. The three sons of founder Ingvar Kamprad reportedly will also be taking more active leadership roles, although it's not yet clear what those roles will be.
Like any retail chain abroad, IKEA has challenges doing business in an environment that is foreign in more ways that one. Just this week, IKEA decided to pull a photo off its Russian website because of possible negative political repercussions. The photo, part of a customer photo competition run by IKEA in Russia, featured four people wearing brightly colored ski masks made popular by a punk rock band named Pussy Riot.
It's not that punk rock is controversial, it's that the Pussy Riot band members were recently jailed for "hooliganism" after daring to sing a song that was unsupportive of Russian president Vladamir Putin. Unlike U.S. retail chains that openly express their political affiliations, IKEA chose to remain neutral and avoid potential backlash by removing the photo from the contest. When in Russia, do censoring like the Russians do!
No doubt when the 2012 World Retail Congress was doing its judging, it was not just the amount of global expansion that IKEA was doing that impressed them, but also the way IKEA was doing that expanding. In its U.S. foreign market, IKEA fired up the largest solar panel installation in the country this week, on the rooftop of its 33rd solar power-equipped retail store in the U.S.
Reportedly IKEA has installed a total of 250,000 solar panels on its stores and buildings around the world. IKEA also owns and operates more than 100 power-generating wind turbines in Europe. IKEA also been recognized as a Top Solar Retailer in 2012 by the Solar Energy Industries Association for having solar installations in more American states than any other U.S. retail chain. Currently solar panels have been installed by IKEA in 16 different states, which is twice as many as the Wal-Mart chain.
Whether IKEA's current and future global retailing activities are what made it an award-winning international retailer, or whether its international retailing success is what allows IKEA to participate in the global retailing stage the way that it does is unknown. But really, it doesn't matter. The fact is that IKEA is expanding its retail presence around the world, and representing global retailing in an exemplary way. For continuing to follow the IKEA Vision of "creating a better everyday life" when so many other international retail chains are losing theirs, IKEA's leaders deserve that World Retail Congress trophy.Trending Retail Topics | Free Retail Newsletter | E-mail Quote of the Day
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