After a multi-year effort, Swedish furniture giant Ikea is finally set to open its first ever warehouse in India.
A 37,000 sqm Ikea store will open its doors in Hyderabad next month. It is the first of 24 locations Ikea plans to establish in India, with other warehouses set to open in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai.
Ikeas plans to expand to India date back to 2006. At that time, the Swedish company said it hoped to open its first India location by 2011 but those plans were soon scuttled because of an Indian rule preventing stores being 100 percent foreign-owned. Although the Indian government in 2012 agreed to allow foreign companies to own 100 percent of single-brand retailers, Ikea was still hesitant to move forward on its plans to operate in India.
Although the on-again, off-again plans are now set to come to fruition, the Hyderabad Ikea location will not carry one of the Swedish brands most iconic products: meatballs. Cows are considered holy by India's Hindu population, while pork is not a popular meat in the country.
There will, however, be plenty of other Swedish dishes available in the Indian stores, and special alternatives to the meatballs are also planned.
"It doesn't mean we won't have Swedish food. Salmon is very popular, we'll have lingonberry jam and whatever is possible to bring here. It'll be a 50 percent vegetarian menu, because a lot of people in India are vegetarian," Ikea India PR Manager Nivedeeta Moirangthem told The Local last year.
"We will replace beef and pork with chicken meatballs. We'll also have a special vegetarian ball, both will be locally sourced from Indian suppliers but keeping in mind the Swedish recipe."
There are currently over 400 Ikea warehouses in 49 different markets around the world. Twenty of those locations are in Sweden.