IKEA, the Swedish furniture company, said sales growth slowed to 1.4% as it faced a “challenging year.”
The company which has a massive store at the Hollywood Exchange near Belfast and opened another store in Dublin this summer, is the world biggest home-furnishings retailer. It said sales increased to €21.5bn (£19.3bn) in the fiscal year ending August 31, a year in which it opened 15 new stores and in which the Republic became its 25th international market.
Sales grew 7% in the previous fiscal year and 14% in the year before that. Despite the slowdown, IKEA still managed to post its highest ever sales.
“It has been a challenging year in which we have had to adapt to changed market conditions,” new chief executive Mikael Ohlsson said. “We know that many of our customers have less money to spend and our low price concept is therefore more relevant than ever.”
IKEA slashed 5,000 jobs to cope with the drop in demand due to the financial crisis but still employs 120,000 people. The company which is not listed on the stock exchange has 267 stores in 25 countries, along with another 34 under franchise agreements.
It did not publish details of the profit it made for owner Ingvar Kamprad who lives in Switzerland and is one of the world's richest