The Swedish furniture giant IKEA has started selling 500 apartments in Changsha in southern China, as the company invests in a combination of shopping centers and housing, Expressen writes.
IKEA’s shopping malls business, under the name Ingka Center, is responsible for the investment of mixed-use retail and residential developments and although the Livat shopping center in Changsha has already opened its doors, IKEA expects the first residents to move in March 2022 after the project became delayed due to the pandemic.
Ingka Centers has around 45 shopping centers or meeting places as they are called, in Europe, Russia, and China, each anchored with a furniture department store. The Swedish furniture maker has shifted to more entertainment and social spaces as customers shop online while going to the mall to eat or watch movies and with housing and office space IKEA is now expanding further.
Cindy Andersen, operations manager at Ingka Centers believes there is a future for physical stores. The new Livat shopping center in Changsha, which cost around SEK 5.4 billion, had an occupancy rate of around 95 percent with around 350 stores in July. “I think we had a relevant strategy even before the pandemic, and now the trend we saw has accelerated,” Cindy Andersen says.
“There is a need to include shopping experiences at the meeting places also in the future. We have great confidence that consumers in China have that need as well,” she says.
In the past year, Ingka has added another 50 international store chains to its portfolio in China, and in addition to Changsha, there will also be housing in connection to IKEA’s malls in Shanghai and Xi’an. “I think it’s about the basic needs of people. We like to be with other people and we like to be in environments where we can experience, touch, and feel things,” Cindy Andersen says.