IKEA opens country’s first store in Hyderabad

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Ikea opens first India store, expects 7 million visitors per year

"The experience is the same", explained Rajini Venugopal, IKEA's first Hyderabad store customer, who was greeted with thunderous applause by IKEA staffers queued up to greet customers on the opening day of the megastore spread over 4lakh sft in the city's IT hub of HiTec City.

He promised that IKEA will offer affordability with great quality, accessibility with more stores and digital platform and it will be leader in sustainability. "Everyone in Hyderabad likes biryani so we included that, along with dal makhani, samosas and other things as well", he added.

The Swedish company said it is investing $1.5bn (£1.2bn) in India, as it plans to lure its rising middle class away from local furniture makers. In addition to the more than 500 jobs that are expected during the construction phase, approximately 250 coworkers will join the IKEA family when the new store opens.

After IKEA received FDI approval to set up shop in India in 2013, it was looking at Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to set up its first store.

The store houses a 1,000-seater restaurant, IKEA's largest and possibly India's largest restaurant, a cafe which will offer coffee, bakes, frozen yogurt and many more for purchase, a kids' play area named Smaland where customers can leave their children safely.

Patrick Antoni, Deputy CEO, IKEA India, had said on Wednesday that they are expecting an average daily footfall of 30,000 to 35,000. "We have a long-term commitment to India, which is an important market for us".

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Ikea, whose founder Ingvar Kamprad died in January, is present in 49 countries. We have two ranges.

Five years after the Centre gave it a go-ahead to invest, Swedish home furnishings major IKEA sounded the bugle of its retail foray in the country by opening the first store in Hyderabad on Wednesday. "One is the Swedish Unique range and one is the local range", food manager Henrik Osterstrom told AFP.

Some locals in Hyderabad said they would take a look.

At the launch, Ikea India CEO Peter Betzel said: "We are not opening a store, we're opening a country".

"I will certainly visit the store soon, probably at the weekend". Today, as a few dozen early shoppers walked through the doors as the emporium opened in Hyderabad, the acid test began of whether the furniture giant understands what Indian consumers want.

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