IKEA closer to India entry after easing of rules

By Anna Ringstrom

STOCKHOLM, Oct 8 (Reuters) - IKEA, the world's largestfurniture retailer, pushed ahead on Monday with a plan to openits first stores in India following the relaxation of rules onsourcing from local suppliers.

India last month eased the heavily criticised rules, anxiousnot to scare off IKEA - one of the few big name firms that hasunveiled plans to invest in the country - or any others willingto follow.

The Swedish retailer said it had filed the last part of anapplication to begin trading in the world's second most populousnation.

"IKEA Group views the recent developments related to singlebrand foreign direct investment in retail positively," theprivately held group, known for budget furniture in self-buildflat packs and huge stores, said in an emailed statement.

"Once our application is approved we will develop a solidplan for the establishment of IKEA stores for many years tocome."

India opened the door to foreign retailers in January, butdrew criticism for demanding that companies source 30 percent oftheir products from small- and medium-sized domestic firms. InSeptember, the government dropped the requirement specifying thesize of supplier.

IKEA in May unveiled plans to open 25 stores and invest 600million euros ($784 million) there, but negotiations around thesourcing requirements raised the prospect the investment wouldbe delayed.

There are 338 IKEA stores around the world, 298 of which arerun by IKEA Group and the other by external franchisees. IKEAGroup is about to speed up expansion, mainly in existing butalso in new markets.($1 = 0.7657 euros)

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Toby Chopra)

((anna.ringstrom@thomsonreuters.com)(+46 8 700 1134)(ReutersMessaging:anna.ringstrom.thomsonreuters.com@thomsonreuters.com))

Keywords: IKEA INDIA/