Documentary series about Ikea, one of the world's most recognisable brands. What does it take to get new products from initial design to stores around the world?
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Where are you going? It's not there. There is the beginning of the shop.
I'm completely lost.
Love it or loathe it,
the world's largest furniture shop has shaped the way we live.
As soon as you're in, you can't get out, can you?
You spend and spend and spend, really.
Founded in 1943,
Ingvar Kamprad established Ikea as a global brand
before his recent death at the age of 91.
His unique approach to business still guides staff today.
I've always seen Ikea as more of a movement than a company.
For the first time in its 75 year history...
..Sweden's most famous export has granted our cameras worldwide access.
We filmed the £34 billion operation over the course of a year...
It is a big machine. It needs to be fed.
..following their rapid global expansion...
We're just entering one of the biggest markets in the world.
I think that we're writing some history, actually.
..discovering what it takes for a new product to make it to the shelves...
So, I wanted to do a cot and a coffin, so I approached Ikea with that idea
and they just said, "No, you're joking."
..and learning the secrets of how it became one of the largest
and most influential companies in the world.
It is creativity versus commercialism and finding that beautiful balance.
Every morning before the customers arrive,
each of Ikea's 399 stores restock their shelves.
I just received this and I have no clue where they go in.
Follow the arrows!
In Helsingborg, Sweden, one employee has recently been promoted.
But Jesper Brodin is no ordinary member of staff.
He's worked for the company for 20 years, and just two days ago,
became the fifth CEO in its 75-year history.
Lots of butterflies in the stomach.
Obviously, like anybody stepping into a new job, you think about,
"Will I manage? Can I really add any value?
"Will I make any sense?"
And then you kind of figure it out.
But this is my - what can it be? - seventh or eighth job in Ikea.
So, maybe tenth job in life, so...
..you tend to get a little bit more relaxed, also.
But I also have a humble approach to it and don't overestimate your own importance.
Jesper may be in charge, but he's starting his new job on the shop floor
to get a better understanding of how the business works.
The biggest learning so far this morning is the inefficiency
in the unpacking, where some things are ready to sell
and some things still need a lot of handling.
Anything he learns could be rolled out in stores around the world.
It can look like a detail, but when you start to do the math in Ikea, it's huge.
2.4 million Swedish krona.
So, a quarter of a million euros, about there.
That's just one store. How many stores do you have?
We're opening number 400.
So, yeah, 400.
-They must have one good one out of that!
On the outskirts of Sheffield, a new store is taking shape.
Do you want us to take them next door or do you want to sit them down?
What do you want to do? It's five to.
Six months into the build and management are introducing the project to the local press.
We are a company that actually has a purpose
and our purpose is to create a better everyday life for the many people
and we'd like to do this through home furnishings.
Yeah? Because we have a very strong belief that everybody deserves a good home, yeah?
Gillian Drakeford is country retail manager in the UK.
I'm really excited today that we're actually at this point,
because most of the customers are saying, "Well, if I want to shop,
"I either have to go south to Nottingham or north to Leeds,"
so, yeah, this is a good thing for us.
And it's fantastic to see the steel frame because once you have the steel frame,
it moves very, very quickly.
I am so pleased that I am the store manager of Ikea, Sheffield.
Bringing the Ikea brand onto a new market is incredibly exciting and,
of course, the number one question you all want to know is,
"When is it going to open?"
I can assure you nobody wants to know that more than me and this team sitting here!
But it will be as soon as our construction team tell us it's watertight.
One of the company's most experienced managers, Gary Deacon,
will be in charge of the store.
I did build Belfast, and I built and managed Dublin,
and now I'm building Sheffield, and I was also incredibly fortunate
to run Wembley when it was the biggest store in the Ikea world,
so how lucky does that make me?
With the store due to open in July,
the team have just seven months to recruit and train 500 new employees.
These 500-odd jobs that you will be creating, will they make a big impact here, do you think?
I think today, if you are passionate about home furnishings,
you must be so excited that Ikea is coming,
and, of course, for anybody to be told there are 500 real jobs coming, that must give those people hope.
The stores are nothing without products.
Every year, hundreds of millions are mass-produced.
One of their biggest sellers is the Billy bookcase, with one sold every ten seconds.
For the last 40 years,
they've been made in southern Sweden
by one of the company's longest serving suppliers, the Gyllensvaans.
It's here we produce a lot of furniture for Ikea.
The Billy bookcase, for example.
And here is my sister.
My sister's husband. No, my daughter's husband!
-My brother's sons, Morten and Philip.
-And my son.
How many family members are in your company?
I think it's nine.
But I have to count.
I think it's nine.
That's my father.
This is the letter my father got from Ingvar.
It is our first contact with Ikea.
What does it say?
We want to buy furniture.
And they did. Starting with just 120,000 units a year,
growing to millions today.
This is Morten.
He is in charge of purchasing and contact with Ikea.
-You've got the hardest job?
-The toughest job. I think so, yeah.
The factory takes delivery of sheets of chipboard before cutting...
..laminating with protective foil...
..packaging and sending to Ikea.
This is the area where we receive the chipboards.
We receive about 700 tonnes daily,
and it is about 19 to 22 trucks every day coming with chipboard.
This is a very big volume in the factory.
The Gyllensvaans' factory is Ikea's biggest supplier of Billy bookcases.
We produce about 170,000 weekly.
This is the box folder where we make the box,
and here we put in protection
to protect the furniture that we have in the flatpack.
We try to be more and more efficient every year
so we can lower the prices
as Ikea is expecting, and we can produce more furniture every year.
Follow me. Let's go to breakfast.
Until recently, the factory supplied over 6 million Ikea products globally.
A few years ago,
we delivered the Billy bookcase to the whole world.
We delivered worldwide, to Asia, to Australia, all over.
And we lost the volume to Asia.
Mainly because Ikea wants to buy furniture more locally.
-Was that hard?
-It's a challenge.
Yes. Billy is a bookcase that many producers want to produce.
Huge volumes, quite a simple bookcase.
We lost 600,000 bookcases.
We have never fired anybody because of lack of work, no.
You can never feel confident.
You never know, never know.
To keep their 240 staff in work,
Eric and Morten have been trying to secure a lucrative contract
for a new range of cupboards called Platsa.
If we get the Platsa deal, we will get to produce about 700,000 doors
to the Platsa range, and it is for North America and North Europe.
They have already produced a small number,
which failed a water damage test at Ikea's lab in Almhult,
putting them three months behind schedule.
The challenge is to fix all the surface demands.
Very, very tough surface demands for water.
We have to solve it.
You only have one client, right?
Yes, one client, one customer.
The factory is one of hundreds worldwide
mass-producing flatpack furniture.
The decision whether to give the Gyllensvaans the contract will be made
at design and production HQ in Almhult.
Platsa is a new range coming in that Gyllensvaans has been part of quoting.
As it seems right now, they will have 45% of the matrix.
Simply, we have to make sure that the products are being produced and sold
under the brand of Ikea, that they manage the daily life in a family at home.
You should be able to spill out a couple of coffee or a glass of water
without destroying the furniture, simply.
So, that is what the task is about.
-Hej. Hello again.
Olof Ahlberg is in charge of the Platsa contract.
After they failed the water test,
he is concerned about the factory passing a retest and hitting the delivery schedule.
What I see as a risk is that...
Because, I mean, if we don't manage this,
there is a possibility, of course, to place the matrix at the other supplier.
Now, we have been working with this for at least two, three months.
We need to make progress, otherwise he takes the decision.
Because time is flying, of course.
-Also in this case, we're getting closer and closer to first production and so on.
You saw the letter down there and the demands,
it is the same today as it was in... Before.
It is high demands, good quality, right price and then they buy.
This is a happy factory.
We are very important for the area, also.
Our workers feel that we can work together.
My father did it this way,
and every year you had to produce faster and better quality.
They put the pressure on us and we...
-Try to live up to it.
You look a little bit worried, I must say.
It creates a bad feeling in my stomach.
The factory won't get the contract until they pass a retest.
Ikea have some very high standards, don't they?
Yeah, I think the customer demands, they increase year by year,
and, of course, that puts requirements on us, Ikea,
and also the suppliers and our partners.
So, for sure, it is tough demands on quality, for instance,
and we can't compromise on that area.
But it's also a business?
It is business in the end, for sure.
No question about it. We need to secure the demands.
This is where all these products that you see here,
they are born here, they started here.
Like the PS Maskros lamp.
That idea started here and then it has been developed
and sold all over the world.
James Futcher is starting work on a quirky new collection.
-Can we catch up later about the stuff you missed?
Aimed at a younger market,
James and the team are showing some ideas to his boss,
head of design, Marcus Engman.
-Yes, we have products that are a little bit more open for interpretation.
One of them being this leg set.
-It comes in sections.
-Then you put together your own legs?
-That's one thing.
-What's more, then?
-Build your own rug.
So, it comes in maybe a kit
with certain cut shapes.
-OK. All in all, that would be quite nice, actually.
Many of our customers, especially the younger generation,
they want to have products that are unique,
and each product looking different,
so it's a big change for us to see how we can work with
mass production, but make unique products.
Hanna, when you've finished there,
could you bring up the ceramic 3-D drawings?
One of Ikea's newest designers, Hanna-Kaarina,
is pitching some of her ideas into the collection.
What's your idea?
I was thinking that we always try to make everything exactly the same,
but maybe we could use the whole manufacturing process in a different way,
and actually make pieces that are based on the same shape,
but everything becomes unique.
When you take it out from the mould, you just place it on the surface.
You use your hands, so basically it's going to be...
also unique pieces.
Have you done it before?
So, it's actually embracing a mistake?
Yeah. I think that could be quirky.
-That could be really cool.
Today, we make everything the same in big volumes,
but Hanna's got this idea of sticking a finger in each vase
or handprint, to make it different.
I mean, that's really crazy, but when you think about it,
it's really fun and it makes mass production
in a different way.
We can have mass production with uniqueness.
Do you think that each one will come out different?
Yeah, I think so.
If we just play a bit with the clay as well.
It's quite nice to do something a bit more experimental.
That's not what Ikea is usually doing,
so that's a nice chance to shake the system as well, a bit.
Why do you want to shake the system?
Just for fun!
I think the challenges are cost.
That if it started to become too expensive,
then we don't really fulfil what we want to do at Ikea.
The next stage is to get the supplier to really understand what our idea is.
To be on the factory floor,
to work with the specialists in the ceramic factory,
in the production line,
and make that idea work within the process
so we can produce thousands of vases that are different.
It's going to be exciting to see how Hanna's idea comes to fruition.
Yeah. And if we have to modify the shape, as well,
let's see what we have to do.
Hopefully they have some ideas to see how we can make the idea work.
Hanna-Kaarina's design is so unusual,
she and James have come to meet with a supplier who is used to
mass-producing millions of products for Ikea.
-It's not such an industrialised set-up so far, so it seems promising.
They start by inspecting a sample with the supplier's management.
-But the vase has no imperfections.
I don't think they fully understand.
It's actually about doing something, provoking a discussion.
So then we can talk about all the steps.
Yeah, because what we can actually do here...
-Yeah, like squeeze one.
Then it's also,
I kind of think it's not about you doing it,
it's actually about having a discussion, because I don't think they understand it fully.
From what we've seen, what could be possible that they could do in production?
But we don't want that.
That's what we want. It is to understand what can we do
within the production steps so then we can design something.
A little bit frustrating.
I thought the supplier would have been more prepared
and we would have had more samples,
and be really able to dive in
and to see how we could create this imperfection.
In general, it's a question like how much we can modify.
-Maybe that's too much.
-Is it just a level of... just a little?
It's how do we achieve something that looks different.
That's fine. That's even nicer.
Then that one actually has a story, it belongs to that person,
that's their fingerprint.
Here we can make handmade individual products that are
available for the many people, because it will be in a price picture.
But I think that's where we need to go through the steps -
how do we do it so we get the right price?
It's like a give and take relationship.
It seems the bosses have finally understood,
but the real test will be tomorrow, when the team return to see the workers make prototypes.
We want Hanna to have all of the drawings ready tomorrow,
so then we can bring up the discussion again.
Are these shapes possible?
It's all fun making something that looks good,
but if it's not at the right price, then you can't afford to buy it.
-# She told me she missed school today...#
Since the press launch,
the Sheffield store has fallen a month behind schedule
and is now due to open in August, just 16 weeks away.
When we get on site now, you're going to say to me, "Gary, that store's not opening."
You look at it now and you think, really?!
Are people going to be shopping in that? Is that going to be finished?
Not this August, you're thinking next August.
No, seriously, you are. Look at that.
Seriously, can you believe?
We need eight weeks to shop fit it, so eight weeks before, they've got to hand that over.
The lift shaft at the back still isn't in.
There's no lift. There's no roof on this half, is there?
Can you see a roof? That's not watertight, is it?
You need it to be watertight?
Otherwise the trades can't come in. The electricians, the plasterers.
Nobody can start until it's watertight, so let's go and meet them
and see what they've got to say.
16 weeks from now.
It is hard to believe, isn't it, we're going to stand here in 16 weeks
and that's going to be an operating unit.
But I trust. I keep saying I trust, don't I? I trust. I do trust.
Well, it needs to, doesn't it?
Cos there's no back end and no roof at the moment.
-There's no back end and no roof.
He seems to think it's OK! He knows.
When do we go watertight?
Overall watertight will be by mid-June.
Mid-June?! Oh, Christ.
OK, Adil, if you'd like to go With Gareth.
With Gary worried about the build, on the other side of town,
a massive recruitment drive has begun.
The Steel City, there were so many people that lost their jobs
and morale went really down, so I think it's a great boost for the city,
that Ikea is coming to Sheffield. Exciting.
Come on, I don't bite!
Ikea have had over 4,500 applications for just 500 jobs.
Can I have the next group for... # Getting to know you. #
Maria Crosby will be the logistics manager at the new Sheffield store,
and is part of the team responsible for recruiting staff.
Can you go and get me a form?
Can you get me one of those candidate sheet forms?
They're not just looking at CVs and skills.
At Ikea, it's all about having the right personality.
We don't want everyone to be the same, we're not robots.
We just want to be similar. Yeah?
The culture and values in Ikea, it's the same here in England, in Sheffield,
as it is in Dubai or Spain or, obviously, Sweden.
It doesn't matter what Ikea you go into, it's exactly the same.
The team are looking for people who possess the eight key values
that Ingvar Kamprad founded the company on in 1943.
OK, so humbleness and willpower, simplicity, togetherness...
This is where I get stuck. Cos they're my three.
My three, my three that I hold dear.
Humbleness and willpower is a massive one for me.
Togetherness is also amazing.
Without togetherness, we have nothing.
This is very different to any other company you've ever worked in.
It really is. I can't stress that enough.
Being able to have the opportunity to work in that box is amazing.
What I want you to do,
and I know some of you might be a little uncomfortable doing it, but we don't bite at all.
I just want you to say hello and where in the store do you think you can see yourself working.
I'm Tom, I live in Greenhill in Sheffield.
Where I see myself in Ikea would definitely be something customer facing.
The way I see it, it's helping people.
Hi, I'm Luke, I currently...
I live in Rotherham and currently work for Poundland...
..as a replenisher/sales assistant,
but I am willing to climb the ladder in any business.
Have you enjoyed today?
So, getting to work for 5am, would that be an issue?
I could ask my mum to drop me off.
-She won't mind.
-Excellent, so you'll be able to...
I'm fully flexible.
I do it to look after my family, cos I pay my mum board.
We pay £8.45 an hour.
-Is that to anyone?
-To anyone, yeah.
-Is that OK?
He was a very, very humble, very much a family person, which is,
in terms of values, that really, really fits.
But he was also determined and eager.
It seemed to go well, the interview?
Yeah, yeah, it went really well.
What were you and Maria talking about?
-Was she called Maria?
-I thought she were called Claire!
OK, so, Luke, you can say, I want to be a manager.
I want to be the best I can be.
I want to know what that looks like.
I didn't know Ikea even existed, I'll be honest with you.
I thought it were Lidl at first.
They've got a nice uniform, but this one's just yellow.
You look like a McDonald's straw in it or something.
Almost look a bit emotional! Bless her!
You get that sometimes, don't you?
Keep your eyes out for Luke. He'll be my manager soon!
-How are you?
-It will be interesting to see the samples today.
Having failed Ikea's strict water test regulations,
Morten is preparing a new batch of cupboard samples to be reassessed.
The first time we failed because of the 16 hour water requirements.
It is like a water test.
Take a drop of water,
put it under a glass for 16 hours, and then it should make
no structure change or visible changes to the board.
The last samples failed when the external foil wrap blistered.
This is the new foil that we are testing.
Just making ten samples and then send to the test lab.
Let's just hope also that it can pass all the tests.
The foil is glued to MDF panels using a specialist machine.
The board is coming out.
The surface is looking good.
But we have to look closer to really see if it's perfect.
Last year, we cut down some shifts and we have kept all the people,
but we lost some volume to Asia and now we are fighting to get it back.
If this test doesn't succeed,
I'm quite hesitant that we will get this volume,
so failure is not really an option for us right now.
We have to succeed with the test.
It looks good to me.
Then we have problems.
Ikea test more than 15,000 products a year in their hi-tech purpose-built lab.
The first sign - no photography, right?
This is where the magic happens.
This is where we make all the mechanical testing
for all different kind of furnitures,
like chairs, like sofas, like beds.
We have another room here where we test textile and surfaces,
especially the surface resilience to different fluids and so on.
Today, I have a sample from Gyllensvaans.
And I am testing cold liquids, water.
So we have the still water and a filter paper...
..which I put on the surface.
And I leave it there for 16 hours.
The test is ongoing right now.
We're coming to an end when it comes to time,
where we need to make sure we have the tests in place.
Otherwise we will jeopardise the sale starts, etc.
It has been some hiccups and failures along the road.
If not, we need to move on and place the matrix and the volume at another supplier.
I think they are a little bit nervous, yes.
Now I am looking for some kind of a change.
I am looking for any mark, or if I see some bubbles or structure change.
If I see a strong mark, it will fail.
If I see some small or large structure change, it will also fail.
The Gyllensvaans will find out if they've passed the test in 24 hours' time.
We are very thorough when we do the assessments,
so we won't let any bad samples get in the store.
So they could touch in this, anywhere in this striped part.
James and Hanna-Kaarina have been struggling to translate
their imperfect vase idea to the supplier.
I think it's something, when we go into the factory,
when we start to pull it out,
Hanna can actually start to explain what her idea is.
Now that management understand,
the big test is whether the workers can actually create Hanna-Kaarina's maverick idea.
The big final thing is to really physically pick the vase out of the mould.
Here we go. Have you explained to him not to be careful?
I am worried that it's going to go wrong.
Relax. You know, it's not about being careful.
If he needs to put his fingers in to get it out...
Now take it out. Yeah, brilliant.
Put it down. Yes, that's it.
That was actually the magic moment.
They actually understand it.
It looks like it's possible.
I wouldn't say we've solved it all.
Sort of happy, but confused at the same time.
Maybe it's going to be OK.
Now they know the factory can make the vase,
James is keen to ensure each one being unique hasn't added too much to the price.
How did it look, do you have rough price ideas on the imperfection?
That's quite important, to know roughly where we are on those.
If you just take that green one, what price?
Cos, I mean, that's not far off.
That's quite a lot.
The team will find out the final price when the vase samples arrive in Sweden in a few weeks' time.
But I'm a little bit worried.
I mean, how much are those vases going to be?
Cos, I mean, it's not much difference in material.
With just two months until the grand opening,
the Sheffield store has a roof, but it's still not finished.
Recruitment, however, is complete.
Are you ready for this? Do you want to know why it's called Ikea?
Because they've got the I at the start of his first name,
then they've got the K at the start of his second name.
Took it all in, didn't he?
Luke has landed one of the 500 jobs and is about to start his in-store training.
-Why do you think you got the job?
Because I've got experience in retail, and I like customers.
What do you think the customers will be like at Ikea?
Well, they're all from Sheffield, mostly, aren't they?
So they're going to have banter. They're going to have a laugh.
As the Sheffield store isn't finished,
new recruits are learning the ropes in Nottingham.
You see how the number ends in 20?
So, anything with a number that is 20 or bigger means a forklift has to
get it down. Everything else below is available for the customer.
My job is replenishment.
We have to get all the pallets done before the shop opens.
I think, for me, it's more than just stacking shelves.
I want the co-workers engaged with the product as well, and what we sell,
and be passionate about it.
Half of these things, I've never seen my life.
I don't even know what you'd use that for.
I don't even know what you use that for.
If I looked at that, I'd have thought it was something
you play Russian roulette with.
You know when you go to the casino and chuck that ball in?
That's what I'd this it was.
Some days are very hectic, so you do have to have a bit of speed
about you and have a keen eye for detail.
I know what it's for.
Pineapple. So, yeah.
Oh, no, it's an apple slicer.
Not a pineapple one.
Gary? You can ring the bell.
-Ring the bell?
-Or stand and stare, whichever is most effective.
The UK's top managers are assembled to hear an important update
about the Sheffield store.
So, that's the team that I've been working with
for the last nearly 11 months now. You can't quite see it,
but if you were to look closely at Kate and Laura,
you will see how much they have aged in 11 months.
That's what opening a new store does for you.
It's working with you, Gary.
-I just throw it out and you bat it back.
OK, so, in terms of date,
for the last eight weeks, we have been opening on the 31st of August.
I think you have all received an e-mail to say now it is likely to be
the 28th of September.
You will get your invite, and I look forward to having what I hope will
be a wonderful day with you, on what is looking like the 28th of September.
-Thank you very much. You were super.
-Good, wasn't it?
As a company, we never like to say "Put back, delayed."
We don't like to use that language.
But, ultimately, it was hoping to open in July.
Then we had a revised date of August 31st.
Then, at the last minute, the very 11th hour, almost the 12th hour,
we got this delay again of four weeks to the end of September.
The truth is, we'll lose 6 million of sales by not opening,
and therefore that will have an impact on the cost picture.
And that means we need to look at how do we find that additional sales, yeah?
So, will it come from pushing Gary and the team to really secure
and over-perform? Ultimately, I have agreed with my board
that our organisation will deliver the goals that have been set, and we just need to do that.
Although the Sheffield building is now watertight, they're having to
delay the opening to allow time to prepare the interior.
It always feels a little bit of a disappointment when you have to move the date.
But you can now see why we were not opening on the 31st of August.
The 28th of September will be a super day, when we open.
Having opened Belfast and Dublin, it's that always wanting to know,
can you do better than you did last time?
I think the pressure on Sheffield is that when we opened Dublin,
I think it was accepted that it was the best store opening that we had ever achieved.
Of course, because I was the guy who opened Dublin,
I always knew that if I got Sheffield, it is another level.
And of course, if it's not, it will be so personal.
It will hurt me like hell.
The test results of the Gyllensvaans cupboard samples are back.
The latest data says that we passed the test.
So now we finally have an approved test for Platsa.
And we have a go-ahead on the business, together with Gyllensvaans.
Even though it's passed,
Ikea aren't placing the full order until they're satisfied the factory
can produce the required volume to their strict standards.
I sure hope they have the assembly line and all parts of the factory
in place, or prepared, simply. Yes.
We've got Platsa, and it's a lot of work.
The initial order is 200,000 units,
to be delivered in just three months' time.
I hope it goes faster, because we are in a really hurry.
Problem in the machine.
The plastic got loose and got caught up in the machine,
so we need to redo it.
-You don't need delays, do you?
-Not at all.
Producing the Platsa, alongside the Billy bookcase,
means the factory is stretched to the limit.
Quite stressful. Very hard to catch up when you stop for a while.
Plastic got stuck in the oven.
We don't understand what is wrong.
-Smoke comes from that machine.
Something wrong with the lift,
something wrong with the electronic motor on that one.
-It needs to be fixed.
-You are having a bad day?
Once the first batch is ready, Olaf will be visiting to sign off
the entire multi-million pound contract.
If we can't deliver in time,
then I think it will be a business consequence for the future.
Ikea needs to have reliable suppliers.
Yes, we like it like this. It's not boring at all.
-Oh, great, Christina.
-Here is the box.
-Did they just come today?
Yes. Just come, really fresh.
-I hope they haven't broken.
Hanna-Kaarina's imperfect vase samples have arrived.
When we open this package, I think it's going to be make or break.
It will either be smiley faces or sad faces.
Not too bad.
I'm happy that the shape is not too much...
It's not too distorted, is it?
So it's actually quite good.
What do you think, Hanna, are you pleased?
I think it looks quite nice, actually.
-I was a bit worried it might look a little bit childish.
I'm pretty happy, actually.
I'm sort of... I feel I'm relieved that it's...
I was a bit stressed, to be honest.
Yes, it seems promising, actually.
Seeing the samples and seeing that they have
actually understood the concept and they can produce pieces that are unique,
it's really good for us.
Almost a little bit lost for words. It looks like it's going to work.
It will be very interesting to see what other people think.
It's decision day.
James needs to present the design to the business team for final approval.
So, this is the final collection meeting that we have invited you to today.
So, this is actually where we decide what the collection will consist of.
They've agreed a cost with the supplier, which will allow
other stores to sell the vase at a suitable recommended price.
-The price point is 12.90 for this one.
-For this one?
And then we have the smaller one.
As the team deliberate, all Hanna-Kaarina can do is wait for news.
What I like about Hanna is she puts her heart and soul into everything.
And you can see that she wants to succeed and make it.
You can see that she goes that extra mile.
When briefing at this project, we actually approached Hanna-Kaarina,
one of our own in-house designers.
How could you challenge that thing, mass production,
everything looks the same?
How could you make something look different?
She had some super stupid, crazy ideas.
Why don't we press a finger or poke a ceramic pot to make it different?
The first samples you see here were actually done just as we left.
They were just getting it. But do you like the idea?
Do you think...? It's very different.
All of our glasses look exactly the same.
Here, we're allowing for... You know, they will be in the store,
lined up slightly different with this human touch.
Looking at these marks, I don't see that as handmade,
I see it as somebody punching on purpose from different sides.
It's a tricky process to get them to destroy the perfect mould.
For me, I work in the square area of Ikea, I would be very much, like,
I don't think I'll get it.
You are used to finding the mass production at Ikea.
You kind of feel like this must be a defect.
Personally, I think that it'll work, if the communication is really, really clear.
I think it's really interesting and super exciting.
I think we will need everybody behind it to get it to work
from explaining in supply, communication,
even forecasting and selling.
Because it's very different, like you say, Nikolai, it's not the norm.
After two hours, a decision is made.
-We made it.
-No, we did. We had the meeting today.
It went really well.
-It's going to happen.
You must be a little bit excited. It could be your first product in Ikea.
Yes. I like starting with the crazy stuff, it's good.
I think the exciting thing is we're going to go for it.
It's going to be between 60,000 and 70,000 pieces of these vases.
-So, I think that's super exciting.
-That's a lot.
Many people will be able to have an Ikea Hanna-Kaarina affected vase.
Yes, that's crazy.
We did it.
Sometimes I think I should cycle around the store,
get there quicker to the meeting, wouldn't we?
If you were not following me now, I could just borrow that bike.
With just six days until the big opening,
Gary's called a crisis meeting to discuss
one of the most important parts of the store - wardrobes.
I honestly want to start by saying it's awesome.
I think the store looks absolutely super.
Pax wardrobes are one of Ikea's biggest sellers.
Stocked in every store around the world,
they're available in multiple combinations.
There's 130 combinations.
I think we are showing 15.
-Out of 130.
-One, two, three...
..four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten...
..11, 12, 13, 14, 15.
I still get 15.
Adam, show me why you get more.
You're calculating just with closed, right?
-Not open? So you're not counting with doors on.
I believe that if any of my neighbours now come
to buy a wardrobe, yeah, that is not a wardrobe.
Put some doors on it for me and it's a wardrobe.
What you show me here is the inside of a wardrobe.
I'd say, yeah, that's true.
That's the inside of a wardrobe.
I don't think something without a door, in my opinion,
should be called a wardrobe.
I don't. But if you tell me it should,
then I can agree on that one that we disagree.
If you take the whole Ikea range, in most countries,
absolutely in the UK,
in all 19 stores today, the number one cash machine is bedrooms.
The wardrobes takes us the most money.
So, it's the one that if you want to walk round today and say,
"What looks amazing," you would always want to start with Pax wardrobes
and freestanding wardrobes, because they're where the money comes from.
We have a combination of nearly 200 doors to show
and we've decided to show 15 out of 200.
With Gary determined to have the perfect opening,
his mind is turning to the big day itself.
-Is the success of Ikea Sheffield personal for you?
When we open the door, will there be 100, 300, 500, 1,000?
I'm going to say 500.
If there's more than 500 people,
I'm going to say that's exceeded what I expected.
If there's only 300 or 400 people, at 9.55, I guess, deep down inside,
I will be a little bit disappointed.
Olaf is on his way to conduct a delivery inspection
at the Gyllensvaans factory.
Simply, if Gyllensvaans wouldn't pass the first delivery inspection,
we would not be OK to send deliveries out from the factory, simply.
And, of course, that would jeopardise the time plans.
There would be potential risks of delays and so on.
And, of course, that is something that we try to avoid.
With the production issues ironed out,
today's visit is to make sure the cupboards are up to standard.
We're going to have a check, it's called the first delivery inspection.
So, they check all the issues regarding quality of the product,
of the packaging, the pallets and everything,
so it's according to what they need.
-So, it's pretty intense?
It's make or break.
Pass today and they'll secure the entire contract of 700,000 units.
It's really important that we get success
in this first delivery inspection, so we get this range, so we can continue to grow with Ikea.
So we can have all these workers coming every day and doing their job.
It's important for the community.
Success hinges on passing a vital drop test.
It's one of the tests that is really important to pass,
with the packaging.
It simulates that the customer will drop the box,
and we have added protection inside the box
so it doesn't hurt the product inside.
-So, in an hour's time, Ikea are going to do this test?
-Why are you doing this so late?
We've done it before, but then we had sample boxes.
Now we have boxes from the real production.
So, we want to make sure that they have the same quality as the samples
that we have received before.
-This has only just come in, has it?
-So it's really last-minute?
They've just arrived.
It's the final step before go-ahead.
So, it would be nice to have to tick off and say,
"Yes, now we're ready to go, finally."
Nervous and excited at the same time.
The product is dropped from a height of 40 centimetres.
It's passed. You don't see it,
there is no damages or anything on the surface.
The Gyllensvaans win the contract.
As always, Ikea will keep a close eye on production.
I would say slowing down, if you are having that mind-set,
that attitude, that is dangerous for a company.
Then you become kind of fat and lazy
and the competitors will catch up.
It never stops. If we want to grow, we cannot just be satisfied.
We need to continue all the time.
-What time have you been here since?
-What time is it now?
-It's about 7am now.
I've been here since 4am.
-Well, I thought people would be queueing up.
But there's no-one here yet.
Test, one, two, one, two.
I didn't come with my wife, because they say that a trip to Ikea is,
could become a relationship breaker, even for the strongest relationship,
with the amount of arguments and what have you that you could have.
Julie Dore, Olivia Blake.
Why do I keep mixing the names up and saying Julie Blake and Olivia Dore,
when it's Julie Dore and Olivia Blake?
After months of preparation, as Gary prepares his speech,
anticipation outside is building.
We thought there'd have been a bigger queue.
A really big queue.
Hello, good morning. Oh, no.
Good morning, everybody, and a warm welcome to the UK's 20th store.
I begin by giving an extended welcome to His Excellency,
the Swedish ambassador, Torbjorn Sohlstrom.
And to the leader of our council, Julie Dore.
And to all of you who have travelled here at your own expense,
thank you very much, I appreciate you being here.
Can I ask, do we know if people are queueing?
Do we have a small queue, any queue?
Is it 50, 20?
-50 to 60.
-50 to 60. OK.
-What brings you down to Ikea?
Well, it's my wife's birthday today.
She wanted to come. That's why we're here.
Logistics, are you ready?
Customer Relations, are you ready?
Gillian Drakeford, are you ready?
Yes! Gary Deacon, are you ready?
Let's get that door open.
After a six-hour wait, Chris is the first customer through the doors.
Adam. Adam, why have you not pegged them back?
Look at the queue.
Ever the perfectionist, Gary has one more niggle.
Come this way. Come this way.
It's quicker. Come this way, it's quicker.
There we go. There we go.
Look at the queue. What do you think it is, 700?
-It's more than that. There's 1,000.
-1,000 people? 1,000 people.
He believes 1,000 plus. Closer to 1,000 than 700.
1,000 people. More than 1,000 people.
Marta Garcia from the business team has a sales update
with the all-important figures.
So, are we level or are we up? We're not down.
I know we're not down, we're too busy to be down.
Are we level or are we up?
What do you think? How much?
-Yes, by how much, do you think?
I would be happy with £10,000.
I would be an exceptionally happy man at 20,000.
We are at £35,000 up on our goal today so far.
-Are you serious?
-I promise you.
That is awesome!
It's a promising start,
but there's a long way to go to plug the shortfall caused by the delay.
Show me the money. Show me the money.
Show me the money!
-So, these room sets will go.
We will not have this walkway, and that's revolutionary.
To design for Ikea, we have to design for all the people,
all around the world.
So, now we're going into India.
An Ikea bag on the market.
The potential is enormous.
I don't think that we understand what we're getting into.
Uncover the mysteries of flatpack, everyday design and brand names.
To find out more, go to...
..and follow the links to the Open University.
Ikea is not like any other company - the Swedish furniture retailer is driven by a powerful philosophy, to 'create a better everyday life for the many people', and with 900 million customers a year, this series goes behind the scenes to find the secret to its global success. With unprecedented access to Ikea's design studios, factories, test labs and stores over the course of a year, we get to know the people who work for the famous company, and explore how they are opening up and massively expanding around the world.
In episode two, we see what it takes to get new products from initial design to stores around the world. One of Ikea's newest designers, Hanna-Kaarina Heikkila, wants to challenge mass production by creating an 'imperfect vase' that has the fingermarks of the creator - she travels to China to see if her idea is possible.
We visit the home of the Billy bookcase to see what it takes to be a supplier for Ikea, as they try to pitch for a new range of wardrobes. Will they pass the stringent tests that the company demands? And we see what it takes to open a new store in Sheffield, recruiting hundreds of new co-workers who need to display the unique culture and values of the company. But with delays to construction, will the store open on time?