Ikea has said it wants to reimburse the state aid the company received in nine countries, including Belgium, during the coronavirus crisis.
Not as bad as expected
The recovery from the coronavirus crisis is going better than expected for Ikea: consumers want to invest in their homes again after the lockdown and are catching up on the backlog of recent months. Ikea first expected a 75 % drop in turnover, but "the crisis was not as deep and long-lasting as we initially thought", the Swedish furniture giant said. In Belgium in particular, the demand for 'alternative services', such as click&collect and express delivery, has increased exponentially.
Tolga Oncu, operational director of Ingka Group (the holding company behind the stores), has therefore informed the Financial Times that he wants to reimburse the received State aid - including the employee furlough money and the bonuses for the closed shops. Ikea has also made a 26 million euros fund available for store managers to invest in local communities.
Negotiations would have started in the nine countries where support measures have been put in place: Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain and the United States. It is not yet known in what form this reimbursement will be made, as the measures were different in each country, nor does Ikea know the amount of aid received in each country at this time.
961 additional employees
The Swedish group said that business is actually going so well again, that wants to recruit 961 temporary workers in Belgium in order to cope with the expected demand this summer. The increase in online demand requires more staff to prepare products and orders, while measures taken to combat the epidemic (such as social distancing or cleaning) also require additional manpower.