IKEA’s shopping malls arm Ingka Centres plans U.S. entry in major play

IKEA’s shopping malls business, one of the world’s biggest, is looking to enter the United States in the next couple of years and is in talks to snap up central properties in major cities, its boss told Reuters.

Gerard Groener, managing director of Ingka Centres, which has 45 shopping centres in Europe, Russia and China, said his company was in several negotiations for inner-city real estate.

New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago locations are high on its wish list, he added.

It may appear an unlikely time to be planning expansion, as COVID-19 lockdowns in North America, Europe and elsewhere have deeply depressed the retail market, with little certainty about how and when consumer demand will rebound.

However the pandemic also presents opportunities in the squeezed commercial real estate market.

“We are in a very active search. Maybe it’s a good time to buy now. I’d say it’s more a buyers’ market than a sellers’ market currently in the U.S.,” Groener said in an interview.

“So hopefully we can be successful now, with the timing.”

In the United States, Ingka Centres would be taking on mall giants such as Simon Property Group, General Growth Properties and Westfield.

Groener said that, in all, Ingka Centres was looking to enter 45 large cities across all its existing markets and the United States, alongside IKEA stores.

To that end the company is in talks, which are at various stages, to buy properties such as old post offices, department stores or existing malls to convert, he added.