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Ikea plans faster expansion, reports 7% sales gain

STOCKHOLM — Ikea will accelerate its store opening pace over the next few years, as it aims for a bigger share on the market in the face of the global economic slowdown, according to reports by The Wall Street Journal and Reuters news service.

The Sweden-based home furnishings giant plans to double the pace of openings by 2020, according to the Journal, with an eye trained on growing its presence in both the United States - where its momentum has been particularly strong - and in China.

The retailer wants to open 20 to 25 stores per year starting in 2014, according to the Reuters report, up sharply from the 11 stores it added in the latest fiscal year and seven new stores in the previous year, according to the report.

"We have a positive view on the future ... and we believe possibilities are still great even if the global economy stays shaky for another while," Peter Agnefjall, who will take over as Ikea's new CEO a year from now, told Reuters.

Worldwide, Ikea said its sales for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31 grew about 7% to a record 27 billion euros, equivalent to about $35 billion, according to the report. That was on top of 7% sales growth the year before.

"We're increasing our production in the U.S., and would also like to find more suppliers that have a strategic fit with Ikea, the company's current CEO, Mikael Ohlsson, told the Journal.

"We will continue to expand strategically on plan as we see potential opportunities and as the need arises," Joseph Roth, Ikea's U.S. public affairs manager, said in an email to Furniture/Today when asked for specifics on the U.S. store expansion.

"We continue to evaluate possible new markets to enter - as we did in the Denver area last year - as well as to grow our presence in existing markets," as it did last month, announcing a plan for a Miami-Dade County store to complement its Broward County location in South Florida, Roth said.

"For some time now, Ikea has recognized the growth potential and strong reception in the U.S. for our unique concept, product offering, and shopping experience," he said.

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