Ikea has opened its own shopping centre in London. It is the start of a series of shopping centres bearing the name Livat. Characteristic of the shopping centres: they are small and urban.
A third of the surface area
Ikea bought King’s Mall in Hammersmith, west London, two years ago. It was one of the many forlorn and neglected mini-malls on the high streets of the UK and beyond. More than a quarter of the premises were vacant. Yet, Ikea put 170 million pounds into it to start this vast experiment.
The result is visible today: the department store group has turned it into Livat, its first inner-city shopping centre in the West. The idea comes from China, where Ikea has been operating its own shopping centres under that name for some time. With a surface area of 37,000 sq m, the building is three times smaller than an average Ikea store. It is also the first time that the Swedes have not opted for new construction works.
Today, the shopping centre reopens, and it is fully leased: not only does it house Ikea’s first British city store, but it also houses Lidl, a Library of Things and pop-up space Sook (for rent by the hour). The typical Swedish meatballs and hotdogs also have their place: there is a Swedish Deli in the market hall, next to two other cafés and several food pop-ups. There is even a designated outdoor area for the residents of the flats above the shopping centre.
Wanted: vacant shopping centres
“This is the first step on our journey to develop more city-centre locations”, says managing director Cindy Andersen of Ikea real estate branch Ingka Centres to The Guardian. The following steps are already materialising: next autumn, the former Topshop shop in London’s Oxford Street will resurface as an Ikea, while in San Francisco and Toronto, too, Livat shopping centres will soon appear in vacant malls.
Ingka is also actively looking for more urban locations to redevelop, both in North America and Europe. As people begin to shop differently – as much as 44 per cent of Ikea’s UK sales last year came from online – the Swedish furniture giant is looking for new ways to get closer to consumers.
“We need to be agile”, says Peter Jelkeby, head of Ikea’s UK retail operations: “I am optimistic about physical [store] space, but it needs to be in harmony with digital sales.” Therefore, Livat shopping centres should primarily provide a home for local, urban consumers. San Francisco, for example, will also have an area for co-working and start-ups, reports BusinessAM.