Exclusive: IKEA malls are framed in homes with a new hub in China

STOCKHOLM, Aug. 10 (Reuters) – IKEA’s one-largest shopping mall business has launched the process of selling about 500 apartments in its first residential development and commercialization of use mixed in Changsha, southern China.

Cindy Andersen, general manager of Ingka Centers since February, said in an interview that she expected apartment buyers to start moving in March 2022, after the adjacent mall opened last month after delays in cause of the pandemic.

Ingka centers have 45 shopping malls, or “meeting places,” as they call them after a tight strategy a few years ago, anchored by IKEA furniture stores in Europe, Russia and China, in China, with the Livat brand.

The company has shifted to more entertainment and social spaces in its developments as consumers, particularly in China, increasingly shopping online while visiting more malls for food or movies. Andersen told Reuters that a third of the tenants at Livat Changsha Mall were currently retailers.

With housing, it is testing another stage of revenue, which takes into account the rapid urbanization in China. The Livat Changsha residential building, in addition to the flats, also has common work and living spaces designed and decorated in collaboration with IKEA that people hope to enjoy working from home.

Andersen said Livat Changsha Mall, the fifth Ingka mall in China and its first development in all markets to offer housing as well, occupied about 95 percent in July, with tenants ranging from restaurants and sports and entertainment establishments up to about 350 retailers, including Decathlon and Uniqlo. (9983.T) of 130,000 square feet.

“I think we had a really relevant strategy even before the pandemic, and now the trends we see have already accelerated,” he said.

He said Ingka centers, however, like IKEA, still have a strong belief in the future for physical shopping, also in China, as long as it is tailored to consumer expectations about services, omnichannel and convenience.

“There is a need to include retail experiences in meeting places in the future. We are very confident that this is a need for the consumer in China as well,” he said, adding that Ingka centers had added 50 retail brands. international in its portfolio in China for the past twelve months.

“I think it comes down a lot to people’s basic needs. We like being with other people and we like being in environments where we can experience, where we can touch and feel,” he said.

In all markets, Ingka Centers is testing various omnichannel models and digital services at its malls with tests ranging from local e-commerce platforms to live shopping events.

In Livat Changsha, an investment of more than 4 billion yuan ($ 616.8 million) so far will initially focus on a loyalty scheme application that is connected to Chinese social networks WeChat, sports services such as the virtual reality center navigation, online restaurant queue and movie entrance. shopping.

Andersen said the program currently has about 2.3 million members in China, up from 1.5 billion in May 2020.

(1 $ = 6,447 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reports from Anna Ringstrom, additional reports from Sophie Yu in Beijing

Our standards: the principles of trust of Thomson Reuters.

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