Ikea has finally opened its first store in India on Thursday, targeting the country's growing middle-class in an environment that Chief Executive Jesper Brodin has described as "more committed to progress."
The expansion had been on the cards for over a decade. Speaking to CNBC's affiliate TV18, Brodin characterized the delay as being down to domestic "uncertainty some decades ago (whereas) today it's a super-strong commitment throughout India for progress."
"Today, it's a braver India and it's a more open India that is more committed to progress," he said, although Brodin warned that it could take years for the economics of scale to pay off in the company's new market.
The maiden 400,000 square foot (37,000 square meter) store is located on the outskirts of the southern city of Hyderabad.
The Swedish furniture retailer has already invested 4.5 billion euros ($5.2 billion) into India, Brodin said, adding that this would continue as the firm moves into new cities and e-commerce.
According to its website, Ikea currently has 48 suppliers with approximately 45,000 direct employees already in India. "The commitment that we make is not short term, it is long term," Brodin said.
Ikea's next store is planned to open in Mumbai in the summer of next year, followed by another in Bangalore in 2020. But, the firm has been shifting its strategy in more established markets towards city center showrooms to support the rise of online shopping — a tactic that may also be brought to India.
Ikea aims to provide e-commerce to Indian consumers in 2019, Brodin told CNBC.