IKEA opens an urban shopping center in London, with San Francisco and Toronto Next

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It’s IKEA, Jim. But not as we know it.

Forget the sprawling, rambling stores with their endless, inescapable walkways from bathrooms to bedrooms and their heady mix of meatballs and markets, ending in soaring shelves of flat-packed furniture.

Because this morning, Swedish furniture and homeware retail giant IKEA opened its urban vision in an unloved mall in a bustling corner of West London. The Livat concept – which means “lively gathering” in Swedish – made its European debut in Hammersmith and will soon be followed by outlets in downtown San Francisco, California. and Toronto, Canada.

By unveiling its new concept, IKEA revealed its vision for the future not only of stores but also of shopping malls. And it, it seems, is packed with community, meeting spaces, products for rent, pop-ups, food, recycling and a car-free environment.

So, let’s start with the basics. First, check that you have everything you need to read this article, and rest assured that the following information can be assembled by one person without the need for power tools (although you can rent them).

Hammersmith is the first European site to carry the Livat brand and was developed by Ingka Centres, the real estate arm of the Ingka Group (which includes IKEA Retail and Ingka Investments).

Its launch comes two years after Ingka Centers confirmed a $230 million investment to acquire and redevelop the existing Kings Mall, which had a quarter of its space vacant, and revamped it with a design Scandinavian-inspired contemporary and an atrium. which offers visitors a space to relax.

IKEA Livat Blacksmith Hammer

The mall is anchored by a new IKEA store, joined by some traditional tenants including Lidl, Sainsbury’s, H&M and Primark. But there’s also plenty of new stuff, including pop-up platform Sook – which has two, soon to be three, West End locations – food outlets (including a yet-to-be-revealed new food concept) and a interactive “library” of Things opening later in April. This community business will allow visitors to rent useful household items.

IKEA Hammersmith is a quarter the size of a traditional store, with 1,800 products to take away and 4,000 on display. The full range remains available for delivery, as well as in-store planning.

It has been designed around the needs of those who shop in city centres: it will be IKEA’s first cashless store in the UK, it will only offer self-service checkouts and will have three entrances and outlets, with a new Swedish Deli placed on the outskirts of the store and opening an hour earlier than the store itself.

Ingka Centres’ Managing Director, Cindy Andersen, was in London for the launch en route to San Francisco to check on her next project, and she told me, “Our urban hangouts have been designed to reflect the lifestyles modern city centers, with more regular visits and fewer car journeys.

She said Ingka Centers will seek other sites in major cities across Europe and North America, combining a smaller-format IKEA anchor with retail and community services in a dependent mix. of the location. For San Francisco, this will include co-working, a space for local entrepreneurs and a new food concept.

Shopping centers as community spaces

“The important thing is to create places that are of their community and where everyone is welcome,” she said. “Places to hang out are more important than ever, we need to get out of this idea of ​​one or the other for the online and physical space. We totally believe in building places where people will create memories together. Livat is designed to be both a community and a destination.

Indeed, the launch of Livat Hammersmith is a significant milestone in Ingka Centres’ $5.65 billion global expansion, following the opening of four new venues in China, as well as the recent unveiling of plans for two centers in India. A second urban hangout is already in development at 945 Market Street in downtown San Francisco and a third at Aura Retail Podium at 382 Yonge Street in Toronto.

The move also marks the start of a $1.35 billion investment in London over the next three years, headlined by a new IKEA store on Oxford Street, to open in autumn 2023, as well as new services. delivery services, such as Collect Near You Lockers – a collaboration with Shift and Access Self Storage available to customers residing within 45km of a locker. The service will cost $13.50 – free for orders over $270 – with two pilot sites live and three in the planning stages. If successful, the rollout will see 20 sites added across London by the end of 2022, with the city to be used as a test bed for innovation.

Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA UK & Ireland, said: “As one of the world’s most innovative and exciting markets for retail and e-commerce, we will be stepping up our investments omnichannel stores in London with a simple goal: to become more customer-centric. »

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