IKEA stores owner Ingka hopeful of return to Russia one day

IKEA stores owner Ingka Group said on Wednesday in response to speculation that it might resume sales in Russia that it was open to returning one day but the conditions were not in place right now.

IKEA still operates 14 malls in Russia but is exploring options for its 17 furniture stores there which remain closed. It said last week it would sell factories, close offices and reduce its 15,000-strong workforce in the country as it could not see any possibility to resume sales in the foreseeable future.

“Having a long history in Russia, with great colleagues and a dream to furnish the many Russians’ homes, this has been a difficult decision for us,” Ingka Group said in a statement to Reuters on Wednesday.

“We remain hopeful that one day in the future, we will be able to bring back IKEA to the many people in Russia. However, today the preconditions are not in place,” it added.

The comments were made after Russia’s deputy industry and trade minister, Viktor Evtukhov, told Rossiskaya Gazeta that he believed that by keeping its ‘Mega’ shopping malls open, IKEA was essentially leaving the door open to a return.

“The company is reducing its presence on the Russian market in a very tolerant way,” Evtukhov said, adding: “There are no political statements, everything is on business.”

Ingka, also one of the world’s biggest shopping centre owners, said last week it was keeping its 14 malls in Russia open as it wants to ensure people have access to the basics they need, including clothes, groceries, and pharmacies.

Hundreds of Western companies have left Russia in the past four months in response to the invasion of Ukraine and the wide-reaching sanctions that followed. Ikea, which opened its first store in Russia in 2000, shuttered all its stores in March.