22 November 2020 Posted By : Josh Rubin

Canadians assembled 631,800 Ikea desks and counting during the pandemic

Working from home might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s been a boon for Ikea.

The retail giant has seen a huge boost in Canadian sales of home office supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company revealed ahead of Thursday’s official release of its annual report.

“We saw significant increases in both sales and demand for our home office category, seeing lifts from five to nearly 50 per cent across categories including home office desks, chairs and accessories,” said Ikea Canada CEO Michael Ward in an email.

Ward noted that the company sold 631,800 desks — including 45,000 sit-stand desks — during the fiscal year ending Aug. 31. Home office sales have stayed high since then too, he added.

“We continue to see high demand for our home office category into fiscal year 2021. As leaders in life at home, we have a unique opportunity to be part of reshaping what home looks like in the new normal. ... We know this closer relationship to home is here to stay,” Ward said.

That spike in sales of home office furnishings helped buoy what could have otherwise been a bit of a grim year for the Swedish giant, which saw sales fall by 8.7 per cent to $2.32 billion, according to Thursday’s report. The privately-held company doesn’t release earnings figures by country but Ward acknowledged that they were also down.

“It has been both a challenging and rewarding year,” said Ward. The company also managed to avoid laying off any of its 7,900 employees during the pandemic. The company didn’t collect any government aid during the pandemic, including the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, a spokesperson said.

The vast majority of Ikea’s sales are typically in store, something which took a hit when all of the company’s bricks and mortar locations were closed for three months, Ward noted. Still, a 41.9 per cent boost in online sales to $370.7 million helped mitigate the temporary COVID closures.

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