Swedish retailer IKEA said on Thursday that it will be temporarily closing its only shop in India due to coronavirus. The furniture giant said that its Hyderabad store will be closed for all its customers from 3 pm on March 20. It added that customers would still be able to shop online.
"We have been listening to the advice of the Indian government, guidance from our global group and customer and co-worker feedback. We have taken a day-by-day and hour-by-hour approach, evolving our assessments and decisions as new information becomes available. We are evaluating and making decisions based on the local situation," said Peter Betzel, IKEA CEO.
Betzel said in a statement that IKEA employees have already been asked to work from home. "We ask all co-workers at our Navi Mumbai IKEA store build-up who are dependent on public transport, to work from home and we will continue the dialogue about how best to protect co-worker's wellbeing whilst enabling our work and ambitions to continue," he said in the statement.
He added that the employees who support online fulfilment "will have strong measures and hygiene practices to ensure the work environment is clean and sanitized, and working at a safe social distance".
The Hyderabad store is the latest IKEA shop globally to shut its doors due to coronavirus. It has already shut operations temporarily in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland, and the United States. However, they are gradually opening their stores in China as the situation normalises.
Betzel called the coronavirus scenario "extraordinary times" and said that their priority right now is to ensure the well-being and health of its employees.
IKEA opened its first store in India in 2018. The second IKEA store in Mumbai is expected to roll out by the end of 2020 in Navi Mumbai's Turbhe. The retailer is also planning smaller stores in Mumbai. These stores are expected to come up in South and Western Mumbai as well as the central suburbs of the city.