One of the best parts about going to IKEA is taking a snack break in the restaurant. Filling up on plates of inexpensive Swedish meatballs and topping it off with a delicious ice cream cone, makes the entire adventure of going to the home goods store memorable.
Wouldn't it be amazing to get your lingonberry fix without having to put up with the hoards of people following the arrows through the massive store?
Well this unexpected revenue generator for the huge furniture store, may be coming to a city center near you.
“We’ve always called the meatballs ‘the best sofa-seller,’” says Gerd Diewald, who runs Ikea’s food operations in the U.S. “Because it’s hard to do business with hungry customers. When you feed them, they stay longer, they can talk about their [potential] purchases, and they make a decision without leaving the store. That was the thinking right at the beginning.”
Over the past several years, IKEA's food division, which also includes the Swedish Food Market that is loaded full non-perishable food items and make-at-home versions of the restaurant menu item, have proven to be more than just a tool to sell more furniture.
IKEA has turned food into one of its fastest-growing segments that they are considering expanding into stand-alone cafes in city centers.
“This might sound odd, but it’s almost something we didn’t notice,” says Michael La Cour, Ikea Food’s managing director.
When the company racked up $36.5 billion in revenue last year, it's easy to see how some sandwiches and chocolate bars get lost in the receipts.
“But when I started putting the numbers into context of other food companies, suddenly I could see, well, it really is not that small.”
IKEA Food had annual sales of about $1.8 billion in 2016.
Also, somewhat surprisingly, 30% of IKEA Food's customers are coming to the stores just to eat- which has gotten management thinking.
“The mere fact that we don’t need so many square feet to do a café or a restaurant makes it interesting by itself,” says La Cour. “I firmly believe there is potential. I hope in a few years our customers will be saying, ‘Ikea is a great place to eat—and, by the way, they also sell some furniture.’”
What do you think? Would you go to an IKEA Cafe?