IKEA and India

In India, it’s IKEA without the assembly

01/12/2006 CALCUTTA, INDIA

Stop at a traffic light in Delhi or Bombay (Mumbai), and magazine hawkers descend, pressing against your car window a fan of Bollywood gossip rags, newsweeklies, and … the IKEA catalog?

India, like most of Asia, has no IKEA outlet. The Swedish superstore, known for its inexpensive yet stylish home furnishings, has swept across Europe and North America – but not here. Indians who buy the catalogs aren’t interested in mail order. Instead, they do what middle-class Indians have always done – have local carpenters make the furniture.

“Whenever we think of doing something for the house, one of the things we always hope we can get our hands on are a few IKEA catalogs,” says Arundhati Ray, a consultant who works with nongovernmental organizations in Calcutta. “It’s shameless pirating,” Ms. Ray adds, showing off an elegant wrought-iron chandelier she commissioned from a local artisan, based on an IKEA picture. Ray also had dining-room chairs and a CD rack copied, though the rack now holds various spices and masalas.

Locally made knockoffs of IKEA pieces are ubiquitous in the homes of professionals in India’s rapidly modernizing big cities. Educated and westernized, many of them prefer IKEA’s minimalist Scandinavian style to homespun Indian handiwork or the clunky British colonial pieces they grew up with.

“It’s the need to break away from the traditional,” says Gita Rana, owner of a high-end home accessories company based in Bangalore. “IKEA furniture represents modern design. It’s easy to maintain…. It’s the look, the lightness. You can move it around.”

Getting furniture made from scratch is nothing new in India, where labor is cheap and mass-produced products are often low quality. But the changing aesthetic reflects changes in the lifestyles of middle-class Indians over the past decade. International companies opening offices and call centers in India, combined with astronomical growth in the information-technology industry, have created a lucrative urban job market for a tech-savvy generation.

Instead of living at home with parents until marriage, many young Indians are moving into their own apartments, postponing marriage, and even cohabiting. Real estate is booming and city living is getting more expensive, so many find themselves squeezed into tight quarters with a need for modern, space-saving furniture.

“I like the big colonial furniture fine in big houses, but I don’t like them in modern houses,” says Tripti Bose, a retired psychologist who divides her time between Washington, D.C., and India. “If something’s so ornate and heavy, it better go in a palace.”

When Ms. Bose built her Indian house 10 years ago, she cut pictures from an IKEA catalog and brought them to a carpenter, who furnished her entire two-bedroom bungalow with pieces modeled after them.

King-size beds provide extra storage with built-in drawers. A wall-sized wardrobe has closets, shelves, shoe racks, and a dressing table. A desk, bookshelves, tables, and other pieces of furniture were made with plywood and painted in Bose’s favorite colors – red and black. “The design is IKEA, but this is all pure wood,” she says, referring to IKEA’s use of particle board.

The price was right – about $2,250 for everything. That would be an unimaginable cost for the 80 percent of Indians who live on $2 a day, but it’s a fraction of what IKEA would sell all that furniture for in the West (even with its bargain prices), and it’s affordable for most middle-class Indians.

For the richest Indians, IKEA has become a stylistic stepping-stone toward higher-end European design, says Vikram Phadke, co-owner of Evoluzione, a Madras store that specializes in imported furniture.

Three years ago, when Mr. Phadke opened his store, $500 was the most retailers in India dared charge for any piece of furniture, he says.

Now, Evoluzione has nurtured a small but growing clientele that wants the best in European design and will spend $10,000 to $15,000 on a sofa.

“In the last two years, it’s a sea change in attitude, in purchasing power,” Phadke says.

IKEA is aware of the copying, but has no plans to open stores here. “We take copying of our products seriously,” says IKEA spokeswoman Tracey Kelly in a prepared statement. But, she adds, “We are happy that the Indian people like IKEA design.”

Part of the reason IKEA doesn’t have plans to open stores in India, she says, is India’s strict licensing laws for foreign-owned companies.

IKEA, which started in a small Swedish village in 1943, now has stores in 33 countries with nearly $19 billion in sales last year. But its retail operations are confined to the world’s wealthier countries – mostly in Europe, North America, and Australia. With its reliance on mass marketing and efficient transportation of its assembly-required products, the IKEA model probably would not work in India or other poor countries, says Abhijit Banerjee, an economics professor at MIT. “Its prices would not be a bargain for most Indians, and those who could afford real IKEA products are too few.”

For now, Indians say they are happy to hire locals to make knockoffs – and avoid the hassle of putting furniture together. If you buy from IKEA, Bose says, “then who’s going to assemble it for you?”

Original source of article here

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16 Comments

  1. Jaya kumar May 9, 2007

    Dear sir,

    We are manufacturer and Exporter of Cotton Rag Rug, Durries, and Floor mats. If you are interested to do business please contact us.

    Our address is

    Contact person : Mr. Jaya kumar
    Company name: J.K.Tex
    117/1 kumilamparappu,
    Chittode,
    Erode- 638102
    Tamil Nadu,
    India
    Phone : 91-424-2534148
    Mobile : 91-98427 34480
    Email : jkumartex@gmail.com
    Website : http://indiamart.com/jk-tex/

  2. Vikram Reddy August 30, 2007

    Dear Sir,
    please let me know when you would enter into the Indian Market. very much interested to do busines with you

    With Warm Regards,
    Vicky
    Bangalore, Karnataka 560100
    9886612134

  3. Gourav Agrawal July 22, 2010

    Sir
    I just see a TV show on national geography about your factory and product. It really impressed me. You must have a look on India market and i want to do on your business.

    Gourav
    Kolkata

    +919748622849

  4. Sunit Gandhi July 23, 2010

    To, Marketing Department IKEA Sweedan
    Sir
    I see ur factory on NAT.GIO 22 July realy wonderful .Furniture is very gracfull in
    quality .India is largest population &bigger purchase power in forthcoming year so that u will deside as soon as early enter the market entire economical range.
    I am feel very proud with ur associats in any kind
    Thanking you

  5. harpal singh bhamra August 2, 2010

    dear ikea
    very pleased with the products and factory seen on national geo tv show with eco freindly products and such worlderful finish in place of wood saving our forest.
    when ever plans for india pl make us a part of it.

  6. harpal singh bhamra August 2, 2010

    dear ikea
    very pleased with the products and factory seen on national geo tv show with eco freindly products and such worlderful finish in place of wood saving our forest.

    when ever plans for india pl make us a part of it.

  7. harpal singh bhamra August 2, 2010

    dear ikea

    very pleased with the products and factory seen on national geo tv show with eco freindly products and such worlderful finish in place of wood saving our forest.

    when ever plans for india pl make us a part of it.

  8. syed August 9, 2010

    dear sir,
    this is syed here
    we are manufacturer and supplier of wood and metal furniture.if u are interested to bussiness with us please contact us.
    mob:+91-9916539429
    +91-9663389335
    email:sdmr178@gmail.com

  9. Akshith August 31, 2010

    Dear IKEA,
    I am really pleased with all your products and i hope you keep coming up with more new and innovative stuff. I hope its high time you make your presence felt in the indian market too, because people want quality products and they are ready to pay for it too.In case if you are planning to enter the Indian market especially south,I would be very fortunate if you could associate my firm with your products.
    Regards
    Akshith

  10. Vinod September 7, 2010

    Sir

    Please let know the process for impoting ikea funiture to INDIA and the contact for same. The imports are basically meant for Hotel Infrastructure.

  11. Shailen January 12, 2011

    Dear sir,

    We are manufacturer and Exporter of handwoven Cotton home furnishings co-ordinates on hand-looms. Around 1999 you were dealing with our society and it continued for three years but due state division and complications with state-government we had to stopped in in-between but now we can establish our relation once again. We have more than 300 hand-looms in our society. If you are interested in business with us please do contact.

    Contact:-

    Contact person : Shailendra Singh Yadav
    Company name: Chhuikhadan Bunkar samiti,
    Chhuikhadan,
    Dist- Rajnandgaon,
    Chhattisgarh,
    India.
    Phone : 91-91792-55906
    Email : shailen.1@rediffmail.com
    shailendrasandy15@gmail.com

  12. Gaurav Mehra January 15, 2011

    Dear Sir / Madam,
    We are dealing (manufacturer) in viscose,woolen & silk shawls,stoles, scarves and running length from Amritsar-Punjab-INDIA.Till now working with exporters of delhi, panipat, mumbai, chenai, bangalore etc.But now wants to work in other countries also. You can contact me for huge range of variety which we are already suppling to more than 150 exporters in india and my id is gauravmehra77@yahoo.co.in or kamvinexports@yahoo.com
    or contact me at my numbers
    093165-93752.
    098555-93752.
    098156-93752. (Gaurav Mehra)

    Thanks & Regards
    Gaurav Mehra

  13. Ramesh Naik May 24, 2011

    Dear IKEA,
    I am really pleased with all your products and i hope you keep coming up with more new and innovative stuff. When are you making your presence in the indian market too, because people want quality products and they are ready to pay for it too.In case if you are planning to enter the Indian market especially West, Vasai-Mumbai I would be very fortunate if you could associate my firm with your products.

    Ramesh Naik

  14. Rohit May 22, 2012

    IKEA
    Respected Sir,

    We feel pleasure in introducing ourselves as leading
    manufacturer & exporter of Home Furnishing products . We are eager to work
    with your organization.

    We are dealing in Yarns & different types of cotton fabrics & finished goods like Curtains,
    Cushions, Bed covers, Kitchen Linen, Table- linen, Carry bags ,Scarf’s etc. 

    We have a in-house full setup of Weaving unit & develop
    different types of fabrics in house (yarn dyed ,casement, cotton duck, canvas,
    flex, linen, denim, twill, seersucker, poly/cotton etc) & maximum fabric
    width we can produce 134 inches & GSM 120 TO 300 GSM, capacity of weaving
    per day 10000 meters .. 

    We are eagerly waiting for your favorable response.. 

    Yours truly, 

    Rohit Tankha 
    (Sr. Marketing Manager)

    Royal A Décor 
    (A Division of Mahavir Forgings Pvt. Ltd.) 
    Marketing office/ Showroom                                       
    1/399,
    Sector-1                                                       
    Vaishali, Near Pushpanjali Hospital 
    Gzb (India) 
    Pin code – 201010 (INDIA)  Tel – 0120-4317718 
    Mob – 08826264548 
    Email : rohit@royaladecor.com             www.royaladecor.com

  15. Avijit Bose May 22, 2012

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    I am a sales & marketing professional having more than twenty years of experience in different industry including Furniture for Home & as well as office.
    As you deliberate & comprehend to enter India, I can add value to your endeavour to roll out the retail chain because of my hands on experience in doing so in Reliance Retail Ltd, part of the countries largest corporate entity. This is besides my proven exposure in channel management under different companies, each being a leader in their line of business.
    Shall be happy to share my resume in case you have any opening. You may write to me at avijit_bose3@yahoo.com
    Regards.
    Avijit Bose
    09163306691

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