IKEA in Hyderabad: First Day Review

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Ikea, the famous Swedish furniture brand, officially opened its first megastore in India on Thursday. "I have a list of items to be purchased, but my wife and I are finding it hard to navigate our way here and have to ask for assistance all the time", he added.

IKEA opened its first store in Hyderabad on Thursday, kicking off its retail journey in India. IKEA spokesperson Latisha Bracy confirmed to KENS 5 that they are "now on schedule to open" as soon as January. "It is overwhelming, a dream come true", he said.

To try and ensure it recoups its $1.5-billion investment, the Swedish company has tweaked its offerings to suit Indian tastes, starting with the restaurant, where "Smaklig Maltid - "Enjoy your Meal" in Swedish" is written on the wall.

Instead of beef or pork, the company's signature meatballs - nearly as famous as its "Billy" bookshelves - will be either chicken or vegetarian.

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"Food is the entry point", said store manager John Achillea.

From living rooms to dining rooms, children's rooms to workspaces, kitchen and bedrooms to bathrooms, the display rooms offer ideas, inspiration and solutions for the entire home in a setting, perhaps not seen before in India.

In fact, such was the turnout at the store that social media was abuzz with pictures and videos of surging crowds jostling to get into the store and the Cyberabad police had to issue an traffic advisory for those headed towards the IKEA store. The next store is going to open in Navi Mumbai in 2019.

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To overcome Indians' aversion to assembling their furniture, with people used to small, family-owned firms providing a bespoke service, Ikea teamed up with UrbanClap, an online platform connecting handymen with consumers.

"I will wait and watch", Mohammad Noor, a businessman, told AFP.

An Indian girl checks furniture at the new IKEA store in Hyderabad on Aug 9, 2018. But I believe there it's all compressed wood.

And Siddharth, who is in charge of a Hyderabad furniture shop and goes by one name, said Ikea might attract hard-up students but in general people would stick with "quality".

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"It will be a flop, I tell you", he told AFP. Today, as a few dozen early shoppers walked through the doors as the emporium opened in Hyderabad, the acid test began of whether the furniture giant understands what Indian consumers want. "I don't think it will give us much competition".

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