IKEA Displays New Seoul Store

luvsmiling, Nov. 20, 2014, 9:18 a.m.

The press got a preview of Korea's long-awaited first IKEA store in the Seoul suburb of Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday, one month ahead of the Dec. 18 opening.  The furniture store is 10 minutes walk from the KTX Gwangmyeong Station and near Lotte Premium Outlet and Costco. The exterior of the building is finished, but work inside is still going on. 

It is the world's largest IKEA store with 59,000 sq.m of surface area. Some 300 employees were displaying items and putting the price tags on them.  IKEA Korea took the opportunity to defend its pricing policy in Korea. Sales Manager Andrew Johnson said U.S. prices, to which the Korean prices have been unfavorably compared, do not include VAT, and prices in Japan "seem lower" than in Korea at the moment because the yen has suddenly plummeted. 

A TV cabinet priced here at W449,000 (US$1=W1,107) is sold for W378,000 in Japan and W274,000 in the U.S.  Johnson said the company visited some 80 homes in Korea to carry out market research, and tried to lower prices for children's furniture. 

Johnson said the company adjusts prices in February each year based on the exchange rate at the time, the country where the product is made, original cost, distribution cost, and sales. Therefore re-pricing will not take place until next year. 

IKEA had also waded unwittingly into troubled waters with a wall map identifying the East Sea as the "Sea of Japan." Retail manager Andre Schmidtgall sought to propitiate ardent patriots. "I would like to take a moment to apologize for the issue we have created to name East Sea only... Sea of Japan. We are aware of the seriousness and again apologize for it." 

The map will not be on sale in Korea, "We are in close contact with our product developers to see if we can find solutions for the map for this wall decoration."  However, IKEA will not recall products with the map already sold in other parts of the world, where the issue is of little or no interest to customers.   The furniture chain will distribute 2 million copies of its catalogue in the Gwangmyeong and Seoul area.

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