Marco Amasanti
Marco Amasanti is a Retail Analyst focusing on spending on the home, including DIY, electricals and furniture

Ahead of IKEA opening its first UK small format high street store in west London this week, we analyse why the Swedish furniture and furnishings giant is making this move. 

The 4,600 sq m store, one of only eight small format shops that IKEA operates globally, will focus on home accessories and soft furnishings. It will also have an exclusive food offer:, the Swedish Deli – which will serve a range of Scandinavian delicacies.

Source: Instagram

Why is IKEA making this move?

The new Hammersmith store is the latest step in IKEA’s global transformation programme. Kick-started in 2018, this has seen the group undertake a ‘total market approach’ centring on convenience and accessibility to meet demand when and where it arises. Alongside huge investment in ecommerce, there’s also been an evolution of its store formats.

A core tenet in this, amid rising urbanisation and changing shopping habits, has been the shift into city centres. In the UK, this has already manifested in London’s two now-closed ‘Planning Studios’, while globally we have seen bigger stores open in Manhattan, Paris, Vienna and Sydney.

Ikea’s Hammersmith store will be the first in the UK under its Livat branding

Ikea’s Hammersmith store will be the first in the UK under its Livat branding Source: Instagram

So the new Hammersmith store denotes the next stage of this evolution in the UK market. Indeed, the high street store is the first in the domestic market under IKEA’s ‘Livat branding’, characterised by the shift to multi-purpose spaces, and follows a number of similar openings across China. 

In terms of location, the Kings Mall shopping centre is well-positioned amid a number of transport hubs, catering to a dense local urban population. More practically, the store plugs a hole given the comparative lack of an Ikea store in West London.

Tapping into the homeware boom

Alongside its newer format, the new Hammersmith location will focus on ‘lighter-ticket’ sectors, offering more than 2,000 home furnishing accessories. Alongside the more pragmatic rationale of consumers transporting these goods home, homewares have been among the best performing non-essential retail sectors since March 2020. As they were elevated as an affordable means of personalising living spaces amid extended periods indoors.

Moreover, although disruption has seen online overtake in-store as the most popular means of purchase, homewares remain one of the most prevalent areas of physical retail. Significantly for IKEA, this has seen ‘fast homewares’ become the latest high-street trend, often filling the void left by fast fashion and other sectors in the past two years. Looking ahead, this trend shows little signs of slowing down.

Changing shopping behaviours accelerate the need for stores to do more

Although the Hammersmith location was acquired in January 2020, prior to the pandemic, similar to burgeoning demand for homewares, the market for these city-centre stores has undoubtedly been exacerbated by the changes seen since COVID-19. Indeed, many of the trends that fed into this acquisition, whether online, demand for convenience and the need for experiences, have only been accelerated by the pandemic. 

I will be visiting Ikea’s new Hammersmith store when it opens on Thursday 24th February, so look out for my new blog where I’ll share my initial reactions about the store. I’ll also be sharing my insights about how Ikea can boost footfall to its new store and the future of its physical network.