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Perspective

Nordic Powerhouse
The Indian market has foxed many a dreamy-eyed MNC, but Ikea is going all out to win

N Mahalakshmi

For a country of its size, Sweden has always punched above its weight. Their population of about 10 million is less than half that of Mumbai, India’s bustling financial capital, but they have to their credit innumerable global brands. And it is not a narrow band of expertise; their range is dazzling, right from auto (Volvo), bearings (SKF), communication software (Skype), fashion (H&M), music streaming (Spotify), to telecom equipment (Ericsson) etc. The most recognised of them — Ikea — is soon going to throw open its doors in India.

Unlike most brands or start-ups that originated in Sweden and either went public or changed hands, Ikea has remained privately held. The home furnishing behemoth is now in its 75th year and is Sweden’s most valued brand. Its DNA is one of simplicity like its iconic founder Ingvar Kamprad, who passed away earlier this year, though its designs are anything but. After delighting millions of customers worldwide, it now wants to win over finicky Indian home owners too.

The Swedes might be an ingenious and industrious bunch but the Indian market has foxed many a dreamy-eyed multinational. Therefore, the top brass at Ikea is not leaving anything to chance. Years of preparation has gone into trying to get the right mix for the Indian market. Starting off with its first large-format store in Hyderabad, it eventually wants to touch 25 stores by 2025 across nine major cities. Money is no bar for this furniture retailer and it is going all out to strike a chord with the Indian customer. What exactly has the legendary furnisher planned for India is the focus of this issue’s cover story.

Among other stories we have another consumer feature on German brand Dr. Oetker and its trial and error journey to popularise mayonnaise in India. Another MNC brand which is fighting out in the cut-throat world of home appliances is Whirlpool. Find out how it is thriving amid the Korean onslaught.

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