Sustainability may be the big story of new IKEA Greenwich store launch last week but it’s far from a new one for this prime retail spot in east Greenwich. Twenty years ago, on this very site, grocery retailer Sainsbury’s welcomed celebrity chef Jamie Oliver (its then brand ambassador) to officially open its award-winning “eco” store. Despite the initial plaudits, the store though had its issues and closed its doors for the final time in 2015.
Now it’s the turn of IKEA to try its hand. Upcycling may be a key message for customers in the newly opened store but to build it, first they had to demolish an “eco” store. An interesting concept – one that didn’t go unnoticed by local residents during the planning process.
That aside, IKEA claims this to be its most sustainable store to date – the retailer hopes it will be the first of its stores ever to be given a sustainability rating of ‘Outstanding’ by BREEAM. It’s 80% more energy efficient than regulations require. It features 100% LED lighting and solar panels. Flooring is made from recycled materials and toilets flush with harvested rainwater.
Employees have been ‘sourced’ from the local community and are not allowed to drive to work. Customers meanwhile have been encouraged to travel to the store sustainably with posters advertising how to get there by bus and there’s a bike delivery system that promises to get items to customers within a 3-mile radius quickly. On launch day last week, however, the car park was full. New services also include removing and recycling your old furniture when your new items are delivered for a non-profit fee.
This latest store continues the brand’s move away from huge out-of-town, ubiquitous warehouse retail spaces into something altogether more inspiring. IKEA have also partnered with local charities to create awareness of sustainable living. There is a ‘Learning Lab’ space dedicated to recycling and upcycling, with a range of free workshops to be held in-store on a regular basis.
Throughout the store, there are many references to the IKEA LAGOM community – the retailer’s initiative to help customers and staff with ideas, inspiration and support to live more sustainably. Almost all room sets feature POS to highlight ways to live sustainably. You’ll also find countless feature focal points promoting how customers can recycle and upcycle IKEA products. There is also an area showcasing ‘Future Living at Home’, designed to educate customers on growing food at home and show how small changes really can make a big difference.
As well as room sets for the home the store has placed a greater emphasis on small business set-ups. Clearly designed to attract the attention (and wallets) of surrounding businesses, there are a variety of mock shop room sets to showcase IKEA products – a florist, a bakery, a hairdressers. Product presentation and display execution, as you would expect on launch day, was sublime throughout.
Continuing what we saw during a recent visit to the brand’s new Warsaw store in Poland, its famed restaurant once again has a smarter bistro cafe feel, drawing IKEA diners in with a range of organic and vegetarian food options, especially for kids.
Topping it all off, literally, is the rooftop terrace. There is an indoor area, designed to provide a community, chill out and event space that will host events such as Tai Chi and yoga classes. It’s also available for hire. With amazing views over the capital’s skyline, the outdoor terrace area is a stunning space in its own right, but especially for a retail store. Sadly on the day of launch it was truly breathtaking – closed off due to high winds.
There may be more than a few local residents who will disagree but if you love retail then there is so much that is new and to like about IKEA’s latest store. In commercial terms, you have to applaud IKEA for its willingness to take its established retail model (a recognised ‘winning formula’) in new and different directions. Hot on the heels of its ‘Planning Studio’ concept in central London and the impressive new store in Poland, this is a brand that is clearly open to challenging how it thinks about itself, recognising that bravery, evolution and innovation is vital in order to ensure the brand remains relevant for a whole new generation of shoppers.
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