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Colin Renwick

Updated: 2010-07-02

Editor’s note:

The largest IKEA store in Asia opened in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on May 20th. Until now, Shenyang was the eighth city where IKEA has set up stores in China, following Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Nanjing and Dalian. Additionally, Shenyang store will serve as a sample for future IKEA stores.

IKEA was founded in 1943 in Sweden and is now the largest home products retailer in the world. IKEA made its first foray into China in 1998 and received more than 23 million Chinese customers in 2009. At present, IKEA China has more than 4 million members, and the Shenyang store enjoys a membership exceeding 60,000 people.

Colin Renwick, vice retail manager of IKEA China, joined IKEA in 1996. He is a veteran in retail and has turned a lacklustre €375m operation into a thriving €1bn success for IKEA.

Recently, Colin talked with China Daily reporter Liu Ce about the advantages and developing strategy of IKEA.

Colin Renwick
Colin Renwick, vice retail manager of IKEA China

Q: What are IKEA’s site selection criteria to open a new store? And why does IKEA choose this time to enter in Shenyang?

A: We want to put our store in the best possible position linked to the population in a particular city and link to public transportation and accessibility for visitors. That's our first criterion. How easy is it for the people to get to IKEA? This particular site takes all the boxes.

We will always go into the most impatient market from the starting. We focus on tier-one cities, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and even Shenzhen is classified now. That’s our policy: see how it works in these cities. And then we look to tier-two cities and then Shenyang was future down the list. It doesn’t mean to say that it is not a good city. Shenyang is a good city with a big population. That is our strategy focusing on tier-one and then tier-two cities.

Q: What are the advantages of IKEA comparing with other competitors in Northeast China?

A: Probably we set low price and good quality. We are very much aware of the environment and people’s safety. So when you buy an IKEA product, it has been tried and quality tested. And I would say some competitors in the market may be not as strict as us. We are very strict with the safety of children and safety of the products. Environmental issues are what we stand for.

Q: We noticed that there are many localization designs for people living in Northeast China, so how does IKEA implement the localization strategy in china?

A: Whether there will be specific products design for the Chinese market that’s not clear the moment. But our products like a wok, you know if it works in China then the wok should work anywhere in the world.

You know, IKEA’s products all over the world are the same. All IKEA products were designed by Sweden, but in every market you can choose the product which is suitable and which is relevant for your markets. For example, we provide more big sofas in Shenyang store according to local people like it. It doesn’t mean that IKEA designed the big sofa for the northeast market. We choose big-sized sofa for the Shenyang market. But in Guangzhou, Shenzhen or Shanghai, we choose more small sofas since people there like smaller ones.. All the products are the same. We just choose different products for different markets according to local custom.

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