“This is the date on which Ikea Bogotá opens. You can read it in the link in bio,” writes the Colombian newspaper El Espectador on Instagram. “Finally,” a woman responds. “I can’t wait,” adds another.
After the Chileans, the Colombians can also furnish their homes with Billy bookcases, Sultan mattresses and Klippan sofas from September 28. And that’s not all. Together with the Chilean franchisee Falabella, an international department store chain, Ikea wants to open nine branches in Chile, Colombia and Peru within ten years.
Focus op Colombia
“A year ago, Ikea opened its very first store on the continent, in Santiago de Chile. However, the focus is currently mainly on Colombia,” says an Ikea spokesperson. Next year, the company also plans to open stores and e-commerce in the country’s second and third cities, Medellín and Cali. In Central America, Ikea also has branches in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
It remains to be seen whether Colombians, like the Chileans, will be queuing in the thousands when the store opens next week. But there is still great enthusiasm in the Colombian media.
More purchasing power
According to Patricio Silva, professor of Latin American history at the University of Leiden, the arrival of an international company like Ikea says a lot about the development of South America. “The main reason Ikea is investing in South America is the growing middle class. Since the year 2000, the export of raw materials on the continent has grown enormously, creating better jobs, higher incomes and better education. Purchasing power has increased enormously “, he tells RTL News.
In addition, it is politically calmer than before, says the professor. “Of course there are still problems in these countries, but it is stable enough for Ikea to invest there. I can imagine that they have been waiting for the peace treaty between the guerrilla groups and the government.”
The way of life of Latinos is also changing, Silva sees. “It used to be normal to get married and have five children, but families are also becoming smaller in Latin America. City dwellers live in small apartments and the practicality of Ikea furniture is therefore appealing.”
Vanessa Cardona (33) from Bogotá thinks that the furniture giant will be well received in the city. “I think it will be a success. We like Ikea very much, but we didn’t have it yet,” she says. The Colombian currently lives in Berlin, but met Ikea years ago when she studied in the United States. “They have everything I needed as a student.”
Silva sees that the Swedish company has an appeal to the Latin American elite. “They know Ikea from their travels abroad and have had to wait a long time for the chain to come to their own country.”
But South Americans from the low income class also like to visit the store, he saw in Chile. Sometimes to buy something, whether or not on installment. But much more often just to stroll around. “In Latin America it is an outing to go to a shopping center and look at beautiful things, even if you don’t have the money for it.”
Another reason for the furniture store’s popularity among Latinos: it’s not American, but Swedish. “There is an anti-American sentiment among many people in Latin America. They are neutral or positive towards Sweden because they think it is a progressive country with a good social system,” says Silva.
Today, Ikea has 462 stores in 62 countries. In addition to expansion in South America, there are also plans for branches in New Zealand and Vietnam. The first Dutch branch of Ikea dates from 1987, in Sliedrecht. There are currently 13 branches spread across the country. Last year the chain attracted 18.6 million visitors.
Juan Camilo Valdés (32) from Bogotá sees that the arrival of Ikea is alive and well in his area, if only because of the amount of advertising for the opening. It will have an impact on the Colombian economy, he thinks.
“Colombia has a large furniture industry and Ikea will have a strong influence on it. On the other hand, it will also open doors for other foreign investors in the country.”
Silva agrees. “The arrival of Ikea will have an impact on local companies, but I think there are also many positive side effects. Colombia is rich in raw materials such as wood, so it is cheaper to produce in the country itself than, for example, in Asia. You can see that also happen in Chile,” he explains. “I think Ikea is good news for Latin America, also because it might give other European entrepreneurs the idea of investing there.”
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