IKEA, the Swedish furniture maker, will launch its first store in the Philippines online, months before its physical store opens in 2021.

The physical store will be located in Pasay City and is set to be IKEA’s largest in the world. It will also house an e-commerce fulfillment operation hub and customer contact center.

“The company is bringing Swedish home furnishings and meatballs to millions more people in the coming year as it enters both Mexico and the Philippines, with web shops opening up months before the physical stores in both countries,” said IKEA Southeast Asia & Mexico in a press statement.

IKEA Southeast Asia & Mexico is one of twelve IKEA franchisees around the world. They have operating stores in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand and an exclusive partnership with Ikano Centres, a Malaysian-owned shopping center with locations in Malaysia and Thailand.

The franchisee closed with P45 billion in turnover across its portfolio between September 2019 and August 2020, down by P3.6 billion from the previous year. The company attributes this to business closures of up to two and a half months, supply challenges, and limits on building capacity.

They were able to keep all of their employees during the lockdown, as well as remain operational in e-commerce in all countries. They recorded more than 525,00 orders and P5.4 billion in sales, more than double their e-commerce turnover from the previous year.

“The COVID crisis changed how many of us value life at home. At a time of urgent need, people turned to IKEA to set up home offices, study corners, outdoor living areas and functional kitchens. Many realized that home really counts, and it’s worth investing to make our living spaces comfortable, functional and beautiful,” said Christian Rojkjaer, managing director of IKEA Southeast Asia & Mexico.

The company is preparing for the opening of IKEA Jurong in Singapore, which will employ a further 200 people. A team is also working years ahead for a store opening in Vietnam. — Mariel Alison L. Aguinaldo