Serbian Ikea, which began work last year, today announced that 23 employees will be canceled.
According to the first information, the middle strata of employees will suffer, while employees in shopping facilities will be exempt from these measures. Officials of the company claim that this is part of a “transformation project and a revised sales concept” that will open new jobs in the next few years. In a conversation with Danas Stefan Winoverbeck, Ikea's general manager for Southeast Europe, that is, Ukraine, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia in Serbia, explains why Ikea, after decades of working within the system created by the founder, is currently changing its global strategy .
– Ikea changes strategy, because the world around us changes the speed that we have never seen before. The retail sector has undergone significant changes, our customers are increasingly using digital technologies, their needs and expectations vary considerably today than they used to be. Today, they mostly live in urban centers, do not have cars and do not always have enough time to come to our department stores, which are mainly located outside the city center. These are the reasons why Ikea is changing all over the world. Here, in Serbia and the region of Southeast Europe, we will create new so-called contact points with customers, such as food loading points or fewer stores in urban centers, while at the same time we will significantly expand our digital services and continue to invest in this region.
* What categories of staff in Serbia will be globally covered by the transformation?
The impact varies depending on which business unit it is, but at this stage it will primarily cover human resources, real estate and business development, as well as logistics. As the transformation process continues, we will analyze other parts of the organization, but it is important to note that in the next two years, both globally and in our region, we will have more employees than today. In this region, we are currently paying special attention to the functions of our regional Ikea office in South-Eastern Europe, located in Belgrade, which supports operations in Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania and Ukraine. Until the end of the transformation in Serbia and the region, we will open 706 new jobs by opening new department stores, checkpoints for goods and digital services. At the same time, 23 jobs will be redundant in the central office, and the impact on department stores will be minimal. We continue to talk with our employees about how to jointly implement changes in accordance with our values and that each employee receive the necessary support.
* Is the new job being strengthened in the online sales segment and how much is calculated on staff from Serbia?
Absolutely, we want our customers to be able, for example, to search, find, choose and buy a product within five minutes after the transformation is completed. For this reason, our priority is to make full use of e-commerce and more attention in the workplace, which adds value to our current and future customers. We will especially strive to attract and create stronger competencies in the field of digital technology, data analysis and personalization. The headquarters of our regional office is located in Belgrade, and it is natural that we count on local experts when we are looking for new skills.
* Under what conditions do current employees leave Ikea?
We focus on keeping as many talents as possible at Ikea. For this reason, we will support our employees to find the next opportunity in the company, here or abroad. For those who do not find new chances in IKEA, we will provide redundancy that will go beyond the legal minimum and be based on the principle of domestic capital. At the end of this process, we will have more jobs in South-Eastern Europe than today.
* How satisfied are you with the business results in Serbia?
We are very pleased with the results in Serbia, and we see many positive trends. In the home goods market for Serbian homes, we have the largest share in relation to other countries in the region, which has increased by 14 percent since our arrival last year. Recently we decided to start a new investment cycle in Serbia with the Belgrade shopping center, which will be located directly in our department store. Investments cost about 50 million euros and create 400 new jobs. I believe that this step clearly demonstrates our strong commitment to Serbia, as well as the desire to further improve our business and promote economic progress in the region.
* What are the main features of the new market approach?
We want IKEA to be accessible, accessible and functioning in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. When I say that it is available, I mean digital sales channels, flexible services and the ability to open stores in the city centers. We will not have a single solution for all markets, but we will adapt to the specific needs of our customers in the South-Eastern Europe region. Our department stores will be transformed into exhibition space. Department stores will also become a strong link to the delivery network, so, for example, the buyer will be able to order a sofa in the morning and take over the same day.