IKEA Enters Consumer Electronics Market
April 18, 2012

IKEA Enters Consumer Electronics Market

Peter Suciu for RedOrbit.com

Sweden's IKEA is the largest furniture maker, and this week it announced that it will enter the consumer electronics market, selling televisions and other home entertainment products alongside its assembly-required flat-packed furniture.

Consumers will soon be able to head to the maze-like stores where they can buy HDTV's, wireless sound systems, Blu-ray players and other electronics alongside Swedish meatballs and low-priced homewares.

This is part of a new partnership with China-based TCL multimedia.

IKEA has long sold furnishings to accommodate consumer electronics, but its new furniture range, named UPPLEVA in IKEA-speak, will further allow greater interaction with TVs and even the Internet. IKEA and TCL are reportedly working together to simplify user control. This includes a new furniture surface that is being specially designed to allow the room modes signal to get through, helping users hide their electronic devices.

The new UPPLEVA line will also be made available in flat-pack boxes, and ready for assembly at home with a few simple tools.

“This is a large step for us. We will have an offer that is unique in the market,” IKEA´s living room chief Magnus Bondesson told Reuters on Tuesday. “We are launching a new concept where you in one place can buy your furniture and your electronics -- designed for and matched with each other from start.”

Additionally, IKEA will sell electronics sourced from TCL, including TVs which will be available for sizes ranging from 24 inches to 46 inches. TCL multimedia currently sells televisions and other electronics under several brands looting TCL, ROWA, Thomson and RCA.

This new partnership with TCL is not IKEA´s first foray beyond furniture. The furnishing retailer has sold home appliances developed in cooperation with Whirlpool, and more recently began a partnership with Electrolux to develop and sell additional appliances.

The new furniture will be available in three designs and will be sold initially in Sweden, France, Poland, Germany and Italy beginning in June. Additional markets will launch later this year, and by next year will be available worldwide. IKEA currently has 280 stores in 25 countries.

While the new products, including the furniture and electronics, won't likely arrive in America until next year, the timing is interesting as this comes just days after big box consumer electronics retailer Best Buy announced that it is closing 50 of its stores later this year. Best Buy, which currently has about 1400 locations throughout the United States already close to stores this year, one in Missouri one in Arizona.