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The radical plan Ikea's new boss has for the retailer 13/02/2018 Ross Greenwood

For years, Ikea in Australia has been a well known retailer - a destination for shoppers. The problem is that Ikea's not been in enough places to capture more market share. 

Well that might be about to change.

The new boss of Ikea, Jan Gardberg, has a plan to double the market share of Ikea from around six percent currently, to 12 percent.

To do that, he has a radical plan that will potentially see some cheaper products in store, local manufacturing, more store openings including pop-up Ikea stores, a more significant online offering and an even more radical plan to roll out cheap solar panels to take pressure off electricity bills.

As Gardberg says: "We have had the brand presence in Australia for the last four decades, and the past five years we have put a lot of focus to establish more stores - we are now ten stores. For the future, I believe there are an additional five or six stores we can implement here in Australia."

Gardberg previously ran Ikea in Russia and China, but for him, Australia is a challenge of scale.

He knows Australians recognise the Ikea brand, but many have not been able to access it. He is also conscious that Australian consumers have the money to spend, if the right offer is put in front of them.

"If I was to be a little bit self-critical, maybe we have been a little bit stuck in the old ways of serving, expecting people to come to the store, and you have to pick all of the items yourself. Now it's not about either-or, we have to do both, and that means to expand our service options," he said.

Jan Gardberg's new plan for Ikea looks to double its market share, lower prices and open more stores. © AAP Image/Dave Hunt Jan Gardberg's new plan for Ikea looks to double its market share, lower prices and open more stores. From its one distribution centre in Sydney, Ikea will eventually have three, to help stock the new stores but also to fulfil the online demand.

Part of Gardberg's radical plan is to seek local manufacturers, to source locally.

"We are coming up to the threshold where it's possible to bring domestic production into Australia. Today we don't have any domestic production here... it is all imported. In categories of bulky goods, like upholstery mattresses, we are seriously looking into domestic production - that will help us to lower prices," he said.

But perhaps Gardberg's most radical idea is about solar panels, following on from international roll-outs.

"We have already introduced that into the UK market  and in Poland and something similar in Japan, and I and the team would like to find a way to introduce that to the Australian market," he said.

But his plan is even more radical than that.

"It would actually be cost-neutral because we believe this to be another positive way that we, as a big company, can contribute for the sustainable life at home for the many people in Australia."

Ikea is changing, and growing. And that in itself is another challenge to established Australian retailers already feeling pressure from the squeeze on consumer budgets, cheaper prices and more and bigger international retailers entering the market. 

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