Ikea growth is stunted by traffic rules

IKEA said yesterday it was seeking to open three superstores in London but was being stymied by planning regulations.

Chief executive Mikael Ohlsson (pictured) said he wanted to build his stores in the capital in run-down industrial areas.

But he said traffic planning rules were standing in his way.

The Swedish retailer already has four stores in the capital.

He told the Wall Street Journal: “In the UK, they want retail to get into the city. But that’s not good for furniture retail. Especially in bulk. We prefer to be farther away from the city centre.

“But the permits are taking a lot of time. Rules are rules.”

On a more upbeat note he said the company would keep prices low despite the soaring costs of materials, including cotton.

Speaking days after Habitat’s administrators announced the closure of all but three London stores, which are being sold to Home Retail Group, Ohlsson said he was not concerned about higher commodity prices and will cut prices this year and next.

“What decides how much a lamp should cost? Only imagination sets the limits,” he said.

Separately the company said it was set to press ahead with its expansion in China.

Ikea now has nine stores in China but the company has plans to have 15 outlets in place in the country by 2015.